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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thank you, Thank you and Did I Say Thank You?

Members of the Center's Programming Guild

Hello Troops,

The comments to this Blog have been pouring in.  I'm humbled by the gratitude being shown to myself, the staff and the thousands of volunteers who have worked at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.  Teachers call comments like these "Special Pay Days".  Its the extra 'pay', tucked away in our hearts, that reminds us we are making a difference.  You become a teacher to make the world a better place, one student at a time.   

I've always regarded the Space Center as my gift to the teachers and children of the Alpine School District and Utah. In 1989 I was half way through a BYU masters degree when the first round of grant money was approved for the building of this unique Space Center.  I realized I couldn't imagineer this one of a kind experience, teach my 6th grade class at Central School AND continue my master's degree program and remain sane and healthy.  Something had to go.  I chose to abandon my degree and give up my goal of becoming a principal to focus on creating this Space Center and making it the best it could be.  I know I made the right decision, even though having that master's degree would have made a huge difference in my pay over the last two decades.  Remember, all dreams require sacrifice.

Thousands of you joined me over the years as volunteers and staff, giving your time and talents to make what most people who come to the Space Center say is "The Best Field Trip in the State!"

"Mr Williamson, what happens to us now?  What happens to all our work?" a volunteer asked in an email.

The school district has released the following statement.   
The plan is to expand on the remarkable legacy of the Space Center as we learn from the past and look to the future..... The committee will be discussing all possibilities about both the location of the center, as well as the curriculum. There are no plans to discontinue the use of the simulators as part of the Space Center Program. The committee will have discussions about ways to add to the current curriculum.

The decision to close the Space Center was correct, there is no question.  Spending that amount of money to renovate the Center wouldn't be a responsible use of taxpayer's dollars.  I know it hurts to see the old place go, but it was necessary.  

The future now rests with this committee and the proposals it will make to the school board.  I am a member of the committee.  I will work to ensure the very best of what the Space Center was will continue into the future, whatever it may hold.  

I want to again thank all of your for your continued support of this, the Second Happiest Place On Earth!  (remember, we always bow and proudly take second chair to the holiest of holy places - Disneyland).

Mr. Williamson

P.S.  I'm working on plans for a final birthday party for the Space Center on November 8th.  It will be an opportunity for everyone to come and bid farewell to your favorite ships, sit in the captain's chairs for one last photo and relive great memories with your friends and family.  Keep checking back for news.

   Remembrances of the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center

I'd like to take a moment and share just a few of the emails people have sent me over the last few days.  
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Mr.  W. 

Mr. Williamson,

I wrote this to help me and other space center fans/staff/volunteers remember the space center so it will never be forgotten.
Every night I take a walk, through a place I love: far away. I close my eyes and in my mind I see somewhere I yearn to stay, something that's a part of me. I wander through the empty halls, willing memories to reappear. Sometimes the halls are foggy and blurred by time. But mostly they are clear and I walk as I would normally do. My thoughts go from place to place as I go along, remembering the things that make this place special. I journey through every space I've ever been to, every ship, every room, ever moment, stopping at the doors I entered. The doors that took me away. My heart wants to go to the reality of this place, but it can not. "Someday again." I whisper as I push against the door and open my eyes, back to the real world. I will never forget and never stop remembering. For every night I take a walk through the stars, surrounded by the laughter, the screams, the voices: all echoes of the place I will always know and love.

Mr. Williamson

Oh, no. This breaks my heart. I have loved going to the Space Center, and I've watched my brother go there time after time. He loves it. This is one of the few places where he has been able to express himself and find people who understand him. He really feels at home at the Space Center. It has given him a wonderful opportunity to grow, learn, and have fun. Where else can we find anything like this?
My brother's dream was to become a volunteer, but he had to finish his Eagle Scout Project first. You don't know how hard he's worked to finish it, looking forward to the day he could apply to be a volunteer. He won't let me see him cry, but I know that's what he's doing right now. Please. There has to be some way to preserve this amazing place. So many of us are counting on it.

 Mr. Williamson

I wish to express my greatest appreciation for the Space Center and what it has contributed to my life. Without the space center I would simply not be anywhere near where I am today. I would no nothing of programming, and would have spent this summer so extremely bored at home all day. Instead I was able to get a job programming at a tax software company. I simply owe all my skills and my professional career to the Space Center.  One of the greatest things that drew me to the Space Center was, Space.  Space Exploration has brought on many technological advances, and there is a still a deep love shared by many people for Space. Lastly I would love to have a final staff party.


Oh my what a shame. I used to volunteer here about 4 years ago. I didn't have hardly any friends, but when I worked at the space center I did. It was a place of refuge for me. Im 16 now and go to PG Hkgh. I have a lot of friends now and everything's fine, but I thank Mr. Williamson and others for their hard work and kindness. This was more than just a "space center" for me. Thank you for your dedication and hard work, Mr. Williamson.

Mr. Williamson

I think I speak for everyone who has ever been to the Space Center when I say that we all want to do anything that we can to help save this place. The Space center has changed who I am, how I see the world, and gave me a fascination with the universe. No common core center could ever do that. I understand that the amount of control we have on this isn't very much, but I would give up anything and work for as long and hard as I needed to to raise the money, spread awareness, and keep the space center alive. This place affected the lives of so many people and brought a real sense of community, friendship, and created a family. I understand, that in its current state, the law doesn't permit it to remain open. I understand that we can't keep everything the exact same. But I also know that I won't something this unique and special and rare be slowly forgotten.

Mr. Williamson

Please. NO. Someone pinch me.  I am sitting in my room and my heart has stopped. I am crying so hard that the front of my shirt and my math homework is soaked with tears. I am with everyone of you. I was about to become a volunteer just as the center closed down.This place CHANGES LIVES. That's why working here was MY DREAM. I wanted others to feel the way that I do.  The Space Center can't close. Way too much is on the line. We aren't talking just the Space Center. We are talking about thousands of people..........

Mr. Williamson

I seriously started bawling my eyes out when I read this. Well first I screamed.... Part of my heart feels empty now... My brain hasn't registered this fully yet...still in shock...
I'm saying this because it's something I've learned dim the space center "if you dream it.., it can happen with hard work!" we need to do something..

Mr. Williamson

The space center gave me the most wonderful memories!! I will never forget the day I went on my first mission, it was the funniest ever! And then I went 6 more times. This place had given me so many amazing memories, I'm in tears right now. I do not want it to shut down, I love the space center, it's like my second home, and to hear that's it being shut down breaks my heart..... The space center is a magical place where you get to leave this world and explore new worlds, you get to fight pirates, aliens, etc. This place has helped me learn more then any math or science class you can teach..... I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that kids can experience what I got to experience.

Mr. Williamson

I had to go to an orchestra concert right after I found out... It wasn't my best performance, but I told a few people, and by the end of the night, people were asking where to put their signatures for a petition! And Baxter, sort of the same thing has happened with me. Before I came to the Space Center, I HATED science. Then I went, and I developed a passion. That was in fifth grade, and it lead me to win second at the BYU science fair. I went again last year several times, and it ignited my love even more. Had it not been for the Space Center, the Alpine School District's Science reputation would've been decreased. I was a national semi-finalist this year, and I know a boy who qualified and applied. Both of us loved science because of this place. We NEED to save the Space Center!!!

The Crew of the Phoenix

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