Columbia astronaut's sister works at school that bears his name - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Columbia astronaut's sister works at school that bears his name

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AVONDALE, Ariz. -

Today is a day when the nation remembers the lost crew members of the space shuttle Columbia in a somber way -- but Michael Anderson School here in Avondale finds a way to celebrate the life of their namesake every day.

It helps that his sister is a teacher here to keep his memory alive.

Brenda Anderson Daniely is a special education teacher at the same school that bears her brother's name.

It's impossible for her to forget her brother, astronaut Michael Anderson, and the tragedy that took his life. On every wall there are reminders and examples of his passion for space flight.

Brenda remembers when the two walked these halls when they were children in the late 1960s.

"We shared a bedroom together and he was on the top bunk and every Saturday morning he would say, let's go to the moon, you know c'mon Brenda lets go to the moon," recalls Brenda.

The day that shocked the nation rocked her family to the core.

"They said 'we've lost Columbia.' Then the news reports flashed in, you know, and it was like that's actually how we found out."

10 years later, it's the children who attend Michael Anderson School who must learn all about who Michael was -- to attempt to reach those same heights.

Most schools have a slogan, a mascot or some even have a namesake. But it's so much more than that at Michael Anderson School where his legacy still literally leads these kids today.

Michael's last words to his sister in an email from space are now immortalized.

"Remind them to dream big, work hard."

"Dream big and to work hard and to work hard every day," says Karen Morales, a second grade teacher, backed up by her class.

Dream big and work hard is the banner Brenda carries to keep Michael's memory alive. His death was a tragedy -- he died too soon -- but Brenda told me he wouldn't have wanted to go any other way.

"He wouldn't have wanted all the hoopla you know, but at the same time he would be very very proud that it's children."

It was back in August of 2003 that Avondale School became Michael Anderson School, and in six months, they're going to have a celebration of the school's renaming.

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