Challenger Middle School's new website is
"We Touch the Future, We Teach"

In 1987, Challenger Middle School started as a junior high with a double-session schedule of 840 seventh graders sharing the site of Wangenheim Junior High School. We moved to temporary bungalows located next to our current site later that same year. Our permanent buildings opened in 1990 with eighth graders joining us in 1991. We became a middle school with 6th, 7th and 8th graders in 1996.

Our school is named in honor of the space shuttle Challenger and her courageous crew. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated during lift-off, ending the lives of all seven crewmembers including the first "Teacher in Space", Christa McAuliffe.

he name “Challenger” captures the energy and the inspiration associated with commitment to success. It dares one to go beyond one’s limits, to have high expectations, to touch the future. The crew’s love for their country, commitment to excellence and appreciation of education were elements that led to their success. The memory of that crew will serve as a role model for our multi-ethnic student population.

Christa McAuliffe
September 2, 1948 – January 28, 1986
First Teacher in Space

Mrs. McAuliffe was a social studies teacher from Concord, NH who chosen by NASA out of thousands of applicants to develop lessons and teach all of us about space. She considered it to be The Ultimate Field Trip. In order to be part of the crew, she trained for 114 hours just like all the other astronauts. She loved to teach and her motto was “I touch the future, I teach.”

The Lost Lesson Plans - Created by Christa McAuliffe, Barbara Morgan, Bob Mayfield, and the Challenger Team - Project Editor, Jerry Woodfill

Teacher Reaches Space Two Decades Later
Barbara Morgan, an elementary teacher who trained as a backup astronaut for Christa McAuliffe under the Teacher in Space Project, finally flew in space for twelve days in August 2007 on the orbiter Endeavour during Mission STS-118.
Pre-Flight interview with Barbara Morgan covering her role then and now as an Educator Astronaut

Challenger Crew
Mission STS 51-L

These astronauts who trained and worked together represented the hope and diversity of America.
Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Commander
Michael J. Smith, Pilot
Ronald E. McNair, Mission Specialist
Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist
Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist
Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist
Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist - First Teacher in Space

Awesome Stories - The Challenger Disaster

President Ronald Reagan's Address to the Nation

Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars

Opportunity rover successfully landed on the planet Mars on January 25, 2004. The area in the vast flatland called Meridiani Planum, where Opportunity landed, will be called the Challenger Memorial Station in honor of the lost Challenger crew.

While on the 8th Grade East Coast Trip, students usually visit the Arlington National Cemetery. They place a wreath at the memorial to honor those astronauts who perished during the accident.

20th Anniversary

Many former staff members and students attended our 20th anniversary celebration, including all of our former principals. We were privileged to have a U.S. Marine Color Guard, VMFA (AW)-121 Greenknights, from Miramar MCAS present and retire the colors. One of our parent volunteers, Mrs. Shortill was instrumental in arranging their participation. Thank you the men who took time out of their very busy schedules to honor our school with their impressive performance.

Sgt Reese W. Taylor, Cpl Harvey R. Ballman, Cpl Eugene F. Sloskey, LCpl Jason A. Slaven
Accompanied by MSgt Steven C. Shortill

Mrs. Generia Perkes', who also retired on that day, reflected on the years she spent learning and growing through change as we went from a junior high with only 7th graders to a middle school with 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Our current ASB President, Nicole Hardson-Hurley discussed her many family connections to Challenger and how Christa Mcauliffe, the First Teacher in Space, inspires her to become a teacher herself. George Presecan, a former Challenger student and senior at Mira Mesa High School, encouraged our students with his motivational speech about becoming a well-rounded student in academics as well as in sports. Advisory representatives recited the poem One Life and the Challenger Chorale, accompanied by one of our excellent student pianists, Jinyoung Hwang and violionist, Natalie Gibson, sang the Star Spangled Banner, Challenger's Alma Mater and, to finish, Happy Birthday!

Principals (from left): Sheelagh Moran (2007-Current), Lamont Jackson (2005-2007), Samuel Wong (1993-2005), Mary Castleberry (1987-1993)

Shuttle Court

In the center of our campus, to greet all who enter is a full-size mosaic of the Space Shuttle Challenger; aptly named the Shuttle Court, it serves as a reminder to young and old alike of the sacrifice all astronauts make in the name of charting our future travel in outer space. The picture is courtesy of Google Earth.

Murals and Beautification Project

Many hands and a generous donation make a beautiful school!

Early in the 2007-2008 school year, City Councilman Brian Maienschein's office contacted us regarding a local volunteer group willing to help with beautification projects. Pam O'Donohoe, our Parent Volunteer Coordinator, worked with Mike Davis from Heroes to prioritize our wish list. Coincidentally, an anonymous donor wanted to help us spruce up the campus as well.

The donation enabled the purchase of magnolia trees and ground cover for our planters. Despite the interruption of rain storms and the 2007 fires, volunteers from the Heroes group and our Dad's Club, staff and many former students earning high school community service credit, pulled weeds, planted all the new greenery and painted the planters and lunch tables over the course of several weekends. The Heroes (Hometown Efforts to Rescue Our Endangered Society) group works a few hours on Saturday mornings. Check our their website if you are interested in donated some time now and then. Their goal is bring a sense of belonging, friendship, "giving back" to society or community camaraderie back to people through helping others.

The donation also allowed us to commission an artist, Justin Devine, to paint a mural on the side of the auditorium and another on the 900 building overlooking the lunch area. It was his first time painting a mural while students were on campus. He admitted to some trepidation before he started but our students' interest, comments and praise as he progressed made him even more enthusiastic about the project. Once again, our students shine! Several people have commented on how the "eye" mural on the 900 building actually looks so real it is easy to believe the cheetah is looking directly at you! You can see the progress of his work and our beautification project in our photo gallery.

The Gillespie Field Air Museum in El Cajon donated a very large model of a space shuttle to Challenger in the spring of 2003. We thank them for their generosity. It is currently housed in the auditorium and is quite impressive. It is larger than most of our students!

Challenger Spirit
By Hannah Tan, 8th Grade Student, Promotion Ceremony June 2010

Challenger's Mascot, Christa the Cheetah, honors
Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space.
We arrived from all around the Earth
Each with our own incalculable worth
To learn how to read and to write
To learn how to run with the end in sight
Headed toward the highest goals
Aiming for the highest stars
We are Challenger, brave and true

This journey has been a beautiful ride
Of fantasies held with American pride
Of hopes and dreams yet to come true
Of reveries yet to be pursued.
Through silence, through tears,
Through sorrow, through fears
We are Challenger, brave and true

And almost like a perfect jigsaw
Each piece special and bearing awe
Each piece working in its own way
Put together carefully to portray
A marvelous picture, a masterpiece
Where all harsh words seem to cease
This is Challenger, brave and true

The space shuttle crash
On that January day
Creates an example
For us here today
We rise, ready
With complete ultimacy
The continual bearing
Of these heroes’ legacy
As we go on,
We’ll change and achieve
The world we live in,
And what they believe For all that we say
And all that we do
Represents Challenger,
Brave and true.

Christa the Cheetah
Our students submitted wonderfully creative artwork for the Christa the Cheetah Art Contest in the spring of 2008. The judging panel, consisting of members from the Community Building Committee, ASB students and representatives from our Partners in Education, selected student Emily Miller as the winning artist.
We Are Cheetahs
By Samantha Mallari, 8th Grade Student,
Promotion Ceremony June 2011
A chapter has ended.
A chapter full of change and struggle.
The memories we made,
All the people we met,
Forever engraved in our hearts.
We have finally finished our journey
Up a jagged, ascending path.

Foreign roads meet before us,
And it is our mission to pick one.
No road is smooth, No road is gentle,
And no road is simple or straightforward.
There is so much we have yet to learn,
So many choices and sacrifices we have yet to make,
And so many obstacles standing in our way.

When we stumble,
And we can no longer see
The light at the end of the tunnel,
We must keep in mind:
We are living legacies of those before us,
The hearts of our ancestors,
And the very hopes and dreams
Of past leaders.

We symbolize diversity, freedom, and cooperation,
And from where we are today,
We have finally lived up
To being true Challenger Cheetahs:
Standing up to injustice,
Saying “Why not?” to those who tell us “No”,
And towering above stereotypes and prejudice.

In the struggles of life,
We dedicate our all,
Take risks,
Jump great leaps of faith,
And push the envelope,
To continue our chase
Towards a brighter future.

We are cheetahs,
Sprinting towards our goals,
At the speed of light,
Never tiring,
Never weakening,
Never faltering,
And only growing more powerful
With each confident stride.

We are the Challenger astronauts,
Breaking barriers and Never establishing a limit
To success.
Hopeful despite the negativity surrounding us,
And taller than the mightiest obstacles,
That threaten to interfere
With our journey toward the future.

So give us a challenge-
We are powerful enough to meet it any day.
For we are Challenger Cheetahs,
And so much more.
Every step we take makes history
And every challenge we meet

Becomes legend.

Challenger Alma Mater
Oh Challenger, we honor you as we go through life,
We'll think of you and what we learned
as we face our life's strife.
As we move on through the days,
our thought will oft return
To the friends we made, the joys we shared,
They will stay throughout the years.

Written by Leonard Wolfe, First Challenger Music Teacher (1986-1997)
Upon his death, Challenger students wished to recognize his contribution to the school and subsequently named the auditorium "Wolfe Auditorium" in his honor.

Arranged by Michael Watt, Music Director 1997-2001
Adapted by Ted Foster, Current Music Director 2010-Present

Shuttle logo designed by former art teacher, Larry Oviatt
Each one of the stars represents one of the lost astronauts.
© Challenger Middle School
10810 Parkdale Avenue, San Diego, CA 92126 Phone: (858) 586-7001 - Fax: (858) 271-5203
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