I was in second grade when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated off the Florida Coast on Jan. 28, 1986. My teacher could barely get the words out. She wheeled in a television set, turned on the news, and we watched that now-iconic clip, which was played over and over for days.
In the mid-1980s — at least, before that day — if you asked a little kid at my school or on my block about his or her career aspirations, there was a good chance you’d hear they wanted to be an astronaut. I wonder if the Challenger changed that. It certainly complicated my notions of space travel.
Pete Cuddyre, a retired Oakland principal, was at Joaquin Miller Elementary School at the time. He said his faculty saw the event as a teachable moment.
Children in the lower grades made artwork of the various stages of the disaster, he said. In the upper grades, there were discussions about the risks that explorers take — not only space explorers, but all kinds.
They talked about the sacrifices that made by the families of those explorers, too.
Cuddyre said that as he watched the news coverage, he was struck by the expressions on the faces of the family members. “They were just stunned and in complete confusion on what in the world was happening,” he said.
For those of you who are old enough to remember, what do you recall about that day?