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Rominger inspires Center students

Posted: Saturday, Jan 19th, 2013

NASA Space Shuttle Astronaut Kent Rominger, right, dedicates the Center High School math and science wing on Friday afternoon with the help of students and staff.

Courier staff writer

CENTER — Valley native and NASA Space Shuttle Astronaut Kent Rominger brought the Center Vikings a slice of space on Friday and tempted students to go in search of the big pie in the sky.

“People willing to work hard come out of Center,” Rominger said to a classroom packed with Center High School students before dedicating the new school’s math and science wing. “I didn’t figure it was realistic. I didn’t think I could do it, but being from a rural area is an advantage.”

Between 1995 and 2001 Del Norte-raised Rominger served as a pilot on five shuttle missions aboard Discovery, Columbia and Endeavor. He grew up with a love for flying, which lead to a Navy fighter pilot career after he earned a civil engineering degree from Colorado State University and a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School. After serving his country, he pursued his dream to fly a space shuttle.

“It was really hard,” Rominger told the students about his first rejection from NASA. “I was devastated. The lesson is to preserve.”

His classroom lesson that included photographs of the Earth from space, the space shuttle and his crew members to illustrate his experience carried on to the math and science wing dedication ceremony.

“I’ve been to hundreds of schools and Center is at the top,” Rominger said while standing in front of a mural that includes his story and a shuttle about to enter the final frontier. “As students, you can do anything you want. This (the space program) is a gem of America and we demonstrate to the rest of the world.”

Later, in front of a second mural dedicated to Neil Armstrong, his personal hero, and Bruce McCandless, the first human satellite, Rominger continued, “I can’t think of anyone better to have on your walls. What they did was a big sacrifice.”

Before Rominger addressed the select crowd of students and staff gathered to make Viking history, Center High School science and math teacher Daniel Newmyer and Center Consolidated School District Superintendent George Welsh said a few words.

“This is something you can remember for the rest of your life,” Newmyer said.

Welsh added, “The decision to place these images you see in our hallways stems from our belief that any one of our students has within them the talent, work ethic, and ability to go forth and achieve even greater things than have been done by the people before them.”

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