Houston-area school district honors Columbia, Challenger astronauts with stadium

Houston-area school district honors Columbia, Challenger astronauts with stadium

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Houston-area school district honors Columbia, Challenger astronauts with stadium

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The Clear Creek Independent School District in League City, Texas, unveiled Challenger Columbia Stadium in honor of NASA's 14 fallen crew members. (Clear Creek ISD)

The Clear Creek Independent School District in League City, Texas, unveiled Challenger Columbia Stadium in honor of NASA’s 14 fallen crew members. (Clear Creek ISD)

Houston, we have a stadium.

The Clear Creek Independent School District in League City, Texas — located just minutes from NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center on the outskirts of Houston — unveiled Challenger Columbia Stadium earlier this month, honoring the 14 crew members killed in the Columbia and Challenger space shuttle disasters in 1981 and 1986, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.

The stadium incorporates a number of features commemorating the crew members, including mission medallions at the gates and a mural paying tribute in the press box, according to a press release from Clear Creek ISD. The 10,000-seat facility provides a second stadium for the dozens of elementary, intermediate and high schools in the district, and the stadium will begin serving its function immediately, playing host to district and region track meets next month.

“I am happy to say that this stadium is not the biggest nor anywhere near the most expensive stadium in the state,” CCISD board president Dr. Laura DuPont said in the press release. “I am proud to say that it is the one that is exactly right for CCISD. This is your space.”

During a private ceremony, the district honored fallen crew members by presenting family members — including the wives of astronauts Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka and Rick Husband — commemorative bricks identical to ones that will be laid in the stadium concourse. Afterwards, Johnson Space Center director Dr. Ellen Ochoa and astronaut Mike Fincke spoke in honor of the Columbia and Challenger crews during a dedication held at the stadium.

“In naming this sports complex, you bestow great honor to the memories of our brave crews,” said Fincke. “Every soccer match, every football game, each track and field competition will be a testimonial to our past while building a better future for our students. May this field be blessed and may it teach our children well.”

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