Education

Area Residents Recall Challenger on 30th Anniversary of Explosion

3e62546dcc91aa4790d3_image1.jpg
97a7cc30832bf8e4afd3_378ecee93aeb9d805c2c_best_0146cff355334380b783_image2.JPG
58ee749a79ad5727e984_3be85901ef50acde8e30_best_abc25788fd5278686878_image1.JPG
cb2e64d858922b28e9b7_5af030b3f29832c3afc8_best_cca0db8eb93da732b1c9_image2.JPG
3a12bef73a2525c1f0d9_carousel_image_3e62546dcc91aa4790d3_image1.jpg
d4c32ae54c8483bb704d_carousel_image_cb2e64d858922b28e9b7_5af030b3f29832c3afc8_best_cca0db8eb93da732b1c9_image2.JPG
4ab08a3579fca0d8b148_carousel_image_97a7cc30832bf8e4afd3_378ecee93aeb9d805c2c_best_0146cff355334380b783_image2.JPG
3e62546dcc91aa4790d3_image1.jpg

ALLEGANY, NY—Thirty years ago Christa McAuliffe, an American social studies teacher, was about to make history.

She, along with six NASA astronauts, was strapped into the Challenger Space Shuttle’s crew compartment, awaiting takeoff from Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Schoolchildren all over the country had their eyes glued either to their television sets or to the sky above them, anxious for a glimpse of the space shuttle as it was readied to streamline upwards into space carrying a crew that included the first teacher ever to breach the 264,000 feet threshold.

Sign Up for E-News

Within 73 seconds, America’s heart was broken.

A structural failure caused a disastrous chain reaction – a loud pop, an enormous puff of smoke and the sudden deaths of all seven on board. Millions of eyes remained focused on the TV or the sky in utter disbelief.

Sharon Bushnell of Hinsdale was a fourth-grade teacher in Hinsdale Central School at the time. During the launch, she and her students were gathered with the other fourth-grade and its teacher in Bushnell's classroom. “I remember everybody staring at the TV. It was a big deal,” said Bushnell, who works as a commander at the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center at 182 E. Union St.

She recalled her shock over the explosion. “I know my students didn’t realize it at the time. We saw the family members on camera. I remember trying to figure out how to explain to my students what had happened and finally I told them: ‘You just watched people die.’ ”

Patrick Vecchio, a lecturer in the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University, also recalled that moment in history.

“I remember that day well because it was my first day at the Olean Times Herald," he said. "I had a story all set for the front page about the launch, and then when it exploded obviously the story completely changed and so they got a more experienced writer on the front page.”

What happened on Jan. 28, 1986, was NASA’s worst disaster but did not cripple its manned-spacecraft program. These days, Fred Welch, a retired Olean teacher and executive director of the Challenger Learning Center, believes interest in space and space travel is as high as ever.

The Dresser-Rand center, he explained, is one of more than 40 Challenger centers in the United States; there also are Challenger centers in London, Toronto and South Korea.

“A year after the tragedy, the families and friends of the Challenger disaster victims came together and wanted to do something in their honor,” Welch said. “They wanted to do something for kids interested in space travel.”

With the support of Dresser-Rand, Cutco and U.S. Rep. Randy Kuhl Jr., the center opened in 2009 on land leased from St. Bonaventure University. According to its website, the DRCLC prides itself on being, “a space-themed facility with educational programs designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math—also known as STEM education.”

Welch stresses that anyone who was alive and can remember where they were on Jan. 28, 1986, does remember.

“It was shocking. I wasn’t watching it live, but the librarian told me, and I saw it on the news right after and I was stunned,” Welch remembered.

For more information on the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center, visit http://drclc.org.

# # #

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

'March for Our Lives' Started A Historic Movement

Shoes on the ground. People chanting. Signs held high. Music playing in the background.

It is the start of a historic movement. A moment when every race, gender and age came together as one. A movement that involved change and a March for Our Lives.

As a student journalist going out to the world, taking part in a national movement truly moved me. Reporting the significance of March for ...

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Sights and Sounds: The First Four of the NCAA Tournament

Traffic is a common occurrence, but for fans of the Dayton Flyers, it’s a usual event every gameday. A trip across the Great Miami River leads to the Flyers’ athletic complex. It became the same ritual for Bonnies fans heading to the University of Dayton Arena for the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.

Snow, sleet and hail pounded down on the car as we ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, April 23

Olean Public Library, Olean

Mother Goose Story Time

Education

Mon, April 23

Olean Public Library, Olean

Introduction to Spinning, a History of Yarn

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, April 23, 6:30 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Investigation Stations

Education

Olean Litter Control Program Prepares for Spring

April 18, 2018

OLEAN, NY – Spring weather is approaching and the City of Olean Litter Control Program is armed with bags and gloves to start cleaning up the litter that winter has left behind.

“This year we are in great need of volunteers” said Lila Ervay, the committee’s chairman. “We currently have a number of volunteer groups consisting of schools, businesses, churches and ...

New Scholarship Dedicated to ALCS Teacher “Bernie” Taylor

ALLEGANY, NY -- The teachers that make learning simple and fun while connecting with students are often the ones most fondly remembered.

Bernadette “Bernie” Taylor was that kind of teacher at Allegany-Limestone Central School for more than 30 years according to her widower, Thomas Taylor.

“She had the skill of making chemistry easy. Chemistry tends to be tough for ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...