Horowitz was at the opening of Endeavour Elementary School last Thursday, where he honored the dedicated scientists who made space exploration possible, encouraged the kids in their pursuit of education and signed autographs.
The new elementary school was built around the theme of space and named for the shuttle Horowitz once manned. It includes large planet replicas floating above library shelves, classroom pods named for galaxies, inspiring messages etched in glass and a wall of windows featuring the Eagle Nebula between glass panes.
Stars are inlaid in the cement floor, the paint color is predominantly blue, lamps and light features have out-of-this-world designs, informational plaques instruct about space and students wear t-shirts bearing the claim of being “Endeavour Explorers.”
“We wanted to build a school where the child will like to learn and where the building itself is an education,” said Bryan Bowles, Davis School District Superintendent.
While the building was based on a prototype that has been used for 10 other elementary schools, according to Mike Hogan of Hogan & Associates Construction, architects were given “an edict that [district officials] wanted something different for this school.”
VCBO Architecture designed the unique features and despite all the extras, and thanks to donations, the building was built at a cost savings of $1.5 million dollars compared to those built previously.
“We’re proud to present this to you,” said Hogan. “We ask only that you take good care of it, keep it clean for the students who follow you …and pay attention to your teachers.”
“This is where it all begins,” said Horowitz, in addressing the standing-room-only crowd. He told the gathered families and school staff that he was in the sixth grade in 1969 when America put a man on the moon. His sixth-grade teacher encouraged him to pursue science and math and engineering and wrote in his yearbook, saying he knew he could be an astronaut if he chose. “Who would have guessed a sixth grade teacher would have motivated me,” he said. “You don’t know exactly where you will make an impact.
“This is one of the most beautiful schools I’ve ever seen. I wish you good luck and know I will see some of you folks making discoveries in the world beyond.”
Joining Horowitz was Zolt Levay, imaging resource lead at the Hubble Telescope Science Institute in Maryland.
Levay gave a history of space exploration, beginning with Galileo, and said it was the Endeavour space shuttle that went on a “very brave and very exciting mission” to fix the problems the Hubble had after its original launch. After the repairs were done in 1993, with Hubble functioning as it was intended, “it’s allowed us to better understand what the universe is like,” he said. “We never knew before how complicated and how amazing it is….the biggest inspiration is the pictures we get back. I’m really inspired by the beauty of the pictures.”
Mark J. Messick, vice president of Advanced Systems for ATK presented Endeavour Principal Beth Johnston with a model of the space shuttle and the Endeavour flag that had flown at ATK when the shuttle was orbiting. In addition, ATK provided the school with two paintings of the shuttle for the front office and another of the booster separating from the shuttle for the conference room.
Messick, who said the building was “truly amazing,” spoke of how ATK hopes “this generation of students will do well in math and science and be prepared to lead our nation in the space exploration endeavors of the future.”
Superintendent Bowles told the students that they were at a launching, “and you can make the flight fly beautifully or collapse,” he said. He encouraged them to launch perfectly and have a wonderful year.