Alvin ISD staff, students, school board members, parents and community members filled the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Junior High cafeteria Oct. 30 for a special dedication. 

The community gathered at the new campus to honor its namesake, Dr. Ronald E. McNair. 

Ronald McNair was nationally recognized for his work in laser physics and was one of the 35 astronaut applicants selected by NASA from a pool of 10,000. 

In 1984, McNair became the second African-American to make a flight into space. He was a mission specialist on the Challenger Space Shuttle, which exploded nine miles over the Atlantic shortly after take-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 18, 1986. 

Cheryl McNair, the widow of Ronald McNair, along with his daughter, Joy, numerous astronauts, widows of other Challenger crew members, and McNair family and friends attended the dedication to honor a man who exemplified excellence. 

The ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem by the McNair Junior High Girls Choir followed by two musical pieces performed by the McNair Junior High Symphonic Band. Alvin ISD Superintendent Buck Gilcrease welcomed the crowd and introduced student Nathan Etheridge, who shared why he chose to nominate Ronald McNair’s name for the new junior high. 

“Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair is a man who I admire. Since childhood, Dr. McNair stood out among many great astronauts because of his commonalities with my parents and myself,” Etheridge stated. 

Vanessa Wyche, deputy director of Johnson Space Center, then spoke a few words about the impact Dr. McNair made on space exploration. 

Members of the Rho Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, of which Ronald McNair was a member, presented Cheryl McNair and McNair Junior High Principal Craig Rhodes with a plaque. 

Nicole Tonini, president of the Alvin ISD Board of Trustees, shared her appreciation for Ronald McNair’s service and the ongoing partnership with the McNair family. 

“Every time we open a new building, the trustees and I are excited to see the campus establish its own identity. Dr. Ronald E. McNair Junior High is no exception to that. We are excited to see how Principal Rhodes and the staff at the campus have incorporated Dr. McNair’s love of science, innovation and excellence into the culture of the school,” Tonini said. 

After Cheryl McNair joined the board on the stage, she was presented with a plaque. 

“It is with great pleasure that we present this special token of appreciation in recognition of this moment. Please accept this plaque as your very own key to the building. We hope that you and your family will stop by the campus any time to be a part of the great things happening at McNair,” Tonini stated. 

Cheryl McNair shared a few words and thanked her family, friends and Alvin ISD for the support for her late husband and for helping his legacy live on. 

McNair Principal Craig Rhodes then took the stage. 

“From the moment I was named principal of McNair Junior High, I knew I wanted to honor Dr. McNair in every way possible,” Rhodes said. “One quote from him has stuck with me: ‘Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them. You’re Eagles! Stretch your wings and fly to the sky.’” 

Rhodes then unveiled a portrait of Ronald McNair that will forever hang on the walls of Dr. Ronald E. McNair Junior High. 

The Rev. Patricia Williams brought greetings on behalf of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. She presented Cheryl McNair a proclamation from the church. 

The lights dimmed and the audience was treated to a short video highlighting Ronald McNair’s accomplishments throughout his lifetime. 

The video was a wonderful ending to a very inspiring evening. Dr. Ronald E. McNair Junior High is Alvin ISD’s seventh junior high. It is the hope of Alvin ISD that Ronald McNair’s legacy lives on through the students of this campus. 

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