Students Remember Fallen Astronauts

Eight years ago, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart as it descended back to earth. Today, students at Hartman Middle School near Hobby Airport honor the fallen astronauts with a permanent memorial. Bill Stamps has more.

(Song: National Anthem)

8th Grader Donnesha Mims sang the National Anthem as students, teachers and various representatives from NASA looked on.

It was a special assembly to unveil the new Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial at Hartman Middle School.

"Five, four, three, two, one, blast off…"

The memorial sits in the school’s courtyard. It’s about six feet tall, made of granite and is shaped like a space shuttle. After the Columbia disaster in 2003 the school built a water pond memorial, but it had to be torn down when the new middle school was built. So this is actually a rededication ceremony. This is Principal Joseph Addison.

"NASA is important to everybody because of the commitment and the commitment and what it represents for the future of the United States and certainly to our children."

BoldenNASA administrator Charles Bolden was the featured guest. Bolden was honored and has vivid memories of the day the Columbia was lost.

"I was listening to NPR. And they were talking about it and they made an announcement that the shuttle was 16 minutes overdue. And that doesn’t happen. Everything is very precise so I knew something was wrong. So I just turned around on my motorcycle and started heading back home so I could go over to JSC. And before I got home they got the confirmation from up around Natchitoches and some other places that they had started to see debris and everything and confirmed that the shuttle had in fact gone down."

The speakers urged the students to carry the torch, to be next generation of NASA scientists and space travelers.

Eighth grader Ezekial Campbell could be one of them. His interest is Aerospace Technology.

"I don’t know where I’m going to take it from there but I do know they have a group called LAUNCH and not too long ago they made a transonic and a one mile one pound rocket. Transonic didn’t’ work but the one mile one pound flew very high."

audienceSeventh grader Jazmin Sanchez may not be a space enthusiast but she recognizes the importance of NASA and the Columbia Astronauts who lost their lives.

"I honor them because they did something that was really important and then they passed away."

Most of the students say they were too  young to remember the Columbia accident. But the memorial will stand as a reminder to future students for years to come.