Dedication and Community Celebration Honors Local Heroes, Celebrates Champions in Training
The gates to Clear Creek ISD Challenger Columbia Stadium swung open to the public for the first time the evening of March 10.
A fitting kick off to the celebration, hundreds of student athletes and artists who will now call the 10,000-seat stadium “home” converged onto their new playing field for the first time through their respective Wildcat, Falcon, Wolverine, Charger and Knight mascot ‘inflatable tunnels’.
The Clear Creek High School Symphonic Chorale, under the direction of James Park and Douglas Lein, flawlessly performed the National Anthem as the Clear Springs High JROTC Color Guard displayed the flags.
After a welcome by Clear Creek High senior, Mariah Pardo, visitors heard from a host of speakers sharing their excitement for the opportunities the multi-faceted facility brings to the students of CCISD.
“I am happy to say that this stadium is not the biggest nor anywhere near the most expensive stadium in the state,” said CCISD Board President Dr. Laura DuPont. “I am proud to say that it is the one that is exactly right for CCISD. This is your space.”
JSC Center Director Dr. Ellen Ochoa and Astronaut Mike Fincke spoke on behalf of the Johnson Space Center and the families of the Challenger and Columbia crews. Both expressed their sincere appreciation to the public for requesting the stadium be named to forever honor the 14 fallen crew members.
“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.”
In a poignant moment of the ceremony, the Clear Brook High Celebrities performed a special dance choreographed to the memorable speeches by President Ronald Reagan and President George Bush memorializing the fallen Challenger and Columbia astronauts..
Several family members of the astronaut crews were in attendance including Cheryl McNair, wife of the late Ronald McNair; Lorna Onizuka, wife of the late Ellison Onizuka; and Evelyn Husband-Thompson, wife of the late Rick Husband, along with several other members of their families. In a private ceremony before the dedication, they were each presented with keepsake Legacy Bricks memorializing their loved one with inscriptions each family had specially chosen. The keepsake gifts, which were underwritten by the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership Aerospace Advisory Committee, were identical to the Legacy Bricks that will be laid in the walls of the stadium concourse.
Several elements commemorating the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are woven into the constructs of the stadium and field house including large mission medallions at both gates on the home and visitor sides as well as a photo mural tribute located in the press box hospitality suite, among other features.
C3 Studios, the team of select students representing the audio/video (A/V) classes from all five comprehensive high schools, worked the cameras and control room equipment and technology linked to the video board operation for the event. Under the direction of A/V teacher and C3 Studios Program Director, David Derr, the C3 Studios team will be running all video board and control room operations in support of football seasons and other major events held at the stadium.
Another special student component will be displayed on a wall in the main staircase of the stadium fieldhouse for many years to come. A specially-commissioned mural weaves the range of student experiences that will take place at the Challenger Columbia Stadium, including athletics, JROTC, cheerleading, the performing arts, and graduation. The work of art was created by students Christina Rasmussen and Shayla Bowen of Clear Springs High, under the direction of Art Teacher Lisette McClung.
Clear Creek ISD gratefully acknowledges several partners who underwrote portions of the dedication including PBK Sports, ICI Construction, Inc. and Joiner Architects.
Events on the horizon at Challenger Columbia Stadium are the District Track Meet (April 11, 13) and the Region III, 6A Track Meet (April 29-30), sponsored by the City of League City.