Dr. Ronald E. McNair Middle School is named after astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair whose tragic death occurred while on the Challenger mission to space on January 28th, 1986. Ronald E. McNair was born to a low-income family in Lake City, South Carolina. Despite the many obstacles he faced, he thrived and excelled in school, and he was valedictorian of his high school class. He worked incredibly hard for this achievement. He even risked getting arrested for trying to check out books at the Lake City public library; at the time, African Americans in McNair’s town were barred from checking out library books. But McNair persisted. He received both a bachelor’s and a Ph.D. in physics, and he was nationally recognized for his work in laser physics. When NASA was searching for scientists essential to their space program, they chose McNair and 34 others out of an applicant pool of over 10,000! In 1984, McNair became only the second African American to make flight into space. Physics was not McNair’s only specialty. He was also a 5th degree black belt karate instructor and enjoyed running, football, boxing, playing cards, and cooking. McNair was also a talented jazz saxophonist. On the Challenger mission, he was supposed to participate the world’s first live-feed musical performance from space. Unfortunately, due to a disaster when the Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after take-off, this performance would never occur. After his death, Ronald E. McNair was awarded a Congressional Space Medal of Honor.