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A Year Later, Concord High School Students Say They’re Recovering

January 21, 1987

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ Students who knew teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe see lessons of hope and courage in the life she led.

″She gave us the idea that we could do what we want to do. She told us to ‘reach out for your goals and grab them,’ ″ said Concord High School junior Sven Pride, 16.

The high school opened its doors to the news media on Tuesday, eight days before the first anniversary of the Challenger disaster. McAuliffe and and six other astronauts died when the space shuttle exploded shortly after launch.

The school has planned a private assembly Jan. 28 for students and alumni to mark the anniversary, and invited the press Tuesday in hopes that reporters would stay away that day.

Many of the students witnessed the disaster on television as it happened. ″We just want the people to know that we’re OK,″ said sophomore Steve Tewksbury, 16. ″We’re not forgetting it, but we’re getting over it.″

McAuliffe, a social studies teacher, would have been the nation’s first ordinary citizen in space.

″Christa left a legacy behind that’s extremely positive,″ said Principal Charles Foley. ″That is, if you want something, take the risk and go for it ... and unless you try you are never going to get what you want.″

The memory of McAuliffe’s courage has helped ease the pain her death caused, said Student Council President Micaela Mejia, 18.

″We know that she was doing what she wanted to, her one chance in a lifetime and she took it, and that makes me feel a lot better,″ said Mejia, who lived next door to McAuliffe and babysat for her children.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, rejected a newspaper’s Freedom of Information request for details of a settlement reached with the families of McAuliffe and three other Challenger crew members.

The Monitor of Concord said it will appeal the decision.

Last month, the department announced an out-of-court settlement between the government, Morton Thiokol, the company that manufactured the shuttle’s rocket boosters, and the four families.

The department said the families’ right to privacy outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

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