Challenger Learning Center of Alaska flying high, marks first anniversary

One year down, many more to go

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

One year ago today, the first missions were flown at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. The building was not completed or open to the public. Only the simulator was open, and the students from Mountain View Elementary of the Anchorage School District entered through a side door and became the first students to "Rendezvous with a Comet." Before the day was done, students from Cordova also flew a mission, and the experience of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska blasted off.

Since that day, the center has been a blur of events and activities. By the end of this school year we will have had over 7,000 students from over 100 different schools from more than a dozen school districts come to the center.

In fact, all last week, all this week and half of next week, the center will be home away from home for students, teachers and parents who have traveled to the center and spent the night on the floor so they could experience what they having been studying for weeks. Science, mathematics, communication skills, teamwork, patience, and being able to read and follow directions are but a few of the education modules learned thorough our curriculum.

As I write this I am thinking about all the people in the past and present who have made this center such a success and such a great place to work. In the two months that I have worked here I have learned many things, but the one consistent is every person I talk to asks if it is fun to work at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. It truly is a fun to place to work.

It is amazing that this facility has come from an initial idea in 1995 to being completely sold out for this school year, 2001. It would not have been possible without the support of Sen. Ted Stevens and his vision for what our facility can do for education throughout the state of Alaska.

The momentum created by an unwavering commitment of a group of people committed to seeing this facility become a reality was without a doubt an essential element in our success. Financial commitments by many individuals, corporations and the city of Kenai are acknowledged and appreciated on a daily basis.

Most important are those people who have worked above and beyond the call of duty every day to ensure that every person that enters our building has a meaningful educational experience. I want to personally thank the staff for their efforts in the past, present and future: Daniela Martian, Rob Carrillo, Kathy Jewell, Ron Arnold and Wendee Collette. As one of them told me the other day, the best is yet to come! Stay tuned for the best and thank all of you for our first year of flying missions and to many more yet to come.

Steve Horn is the executive director of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, which is located in Kenai. He can be reached by phone at 283-2000; by fax at 283-2279; or by e-mail at

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