Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
A group of boys sit at their stations during a mission in the Phoenix simulator at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center in Pleasant Grove.

I spent my fifth and sixth grade years at Pleasant Grove's Central Elementary in the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. It was one of the most influential periods in my life. My time there shaped the way I look at the world, and developed the skills that I use every day. It wasn't just the fun of the place, it was the sense of belonging there. Regardless of how weird or nerdy or strange I was, there was a place where I was accepted.

I don't think that I could have made it through secondary school without the skills I learned there — skills like thinking on your feet and teamwork, which are vital to future life but are not always emphasized in a traditional classroom setting. Without the experiences I had there, I would be a completely different person today.

I can't adequately express the gratitude I feel for Mr. Williamson and all the staff at the Space Center for the profound impact they made on my life.

It would be a travesty to take the experience away from others. I implore the school district and the community to get behind this program to ensure that it will continue.

Matt Bezzant

Pleasant Grove