Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Science classroom in Canton named for astronaut


Hoping to inspire students to reach for the stars for generations to come, Canton High School has changed the name of Room 108 to the Steven R Nagel Science Classroom to honor the former student and astronaut who died in August, the Daily Ledger reports.

(Larry Eskridge / Gatehouse Media Illinois / used under a Creative Commons license)

District 66 school board President Kevin Hampton said in his welcome message for students and other community members at the dedication ceremony that Mr Nagel “started where we are” and served as a reminder to “reach for your dreams”: “Everyone has the same opportunity. Find your star and reach for it,” the paper quoted him as saying.

“Here in this high school, in this very room, Steve Nagel’s love of space was born and nurtured,” Alan Coleman, a classmate of Mr Nagel’s, was quoted as saying. “In this room today is another generation of Little Giants preparing to fulfill the potential you have been shaping here in the halls of Canton High School. You can reach your potential like Colonel Nagel did, but you must dream, plan and have a passion for what you want to accomplish.”

Mr Nagel graduated from Canton High School in 1964. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1969 in aerospace engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University, Fresno, in 1978.

He was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters. as well as the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. His NASA honors included four NASA Space Flight Medals and the Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1992. Closer to home, he was named a Lincoln Laureate by the State of Illinois in 1994.

He logged a total of 723 hours in space on four missions:

  • STS-51G (Discovery), mission specialist, June 17–24, 1985 (170 hours)
  • STS-61A (Challenger), pilot, Oct 30–Nov 6, 1985 (111 orbits)
  • STS-37 (Atlantis), commander, April 5–11, 1991 (Gamma Ray Observatory)
  • STS-55 (Columbia), commander, April 26–May 6, 1993 (4.2 million miles)

The high school is one of five schools in the Canton Union School District 66 in Fulton County, Ill. It’s located about 30 miles southwest of Peoria.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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