Archive for October, 2015

Buzz Aldrin returns to Montclair

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

This past Tuesday could have been called Buzz Aldrin Day.

The famed second man on the Moon and Montclair native spent the morning of Oct. 27 back in familiar territory as he was feted with a breakfast at the Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, followed by a tour of one of his old schools, Mount Hebron Middle School and then ending with a visit to his childhood home on Princeton Place.

Buzz Aldrin greets Kiera Hasan, an eighth-grader at Mount Hebron Middle School, during his visit Tuesday to the future “Buzz Aldrin Middle School.” BUY THIS PHOTO
STAFF PHOTO BY ADAM ANIK
Buzz Aldrin stands outside of his childhood home on Princeton Place during his visit to Montclair Tuesday.
The return to his hometown coincided with his coming back to New Jersey to receive an award the night before from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. More importantly, his presence comes a week after the Montclair Board of Education approved the renaming of Mount Hebron to Buzz Aldrin Middle School.

Aldrin was accompanied by his manager and “mission-control director” Christina Korp, and his companion and “co-captain” Judy Rice, and members of the Montclair Man on the Moon Committee, a group of residents that led the effort to get Mount Hebron renamed for Aldrin and worked with his management to get him back in town.

During his time in Montclair, Aldrin offered comments at various moments to The Montclair Times. Among them was about seeing his old house.

“It’s always great to come back no matter what the years are,” Aldrin said. “I got a secret: I am getting younger every year. We won’t tell anybody, will we?”

the third floor

Aldrin’s final leg of his trip to Montclair brought him to the three-floor home of his youth that gave him the best view of Anderson Park.

The longtime owner of the home, Dolores Kelly, and her late husband John, raised 11 children in the house.

Kelly, along with four of her daughters, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, greeted Aldrin as he came through the front door with members of the press in tow.

Kelly and Aldrin embraced each another like long-lost friends. Aldrin has visited the house several times through the years and has always been a welcome guest.

“We’re very proud to have him come, and it’s a pleasure to have him come,” Kelly said. “Any time he wants to come, he is welcome. I don’t say that to anyone else.”

Aldrin, with Korp and Rice, went upstairs sans cameras and reporters to see his bedroom on the third floor.

He spent about a half-hour inside the house before making his way outdoors.

Walking around to the backyard, Aldrin remembered it was much more crowded when he was growing up, with a garden, flowerbed and a birdbath.

Aldrin then responded to a question from a reporter about his thoughts on his place in history.

“I haven’t come all the way to the crucial parts of my history. The best is yet to come,” Aldrin said.

Aldrin and his small entourage then walked over to Anderson Park to take some photos while he pointed out different areas that had changed since he was a kid. After that, Aldrin’s day was done and a chartered bus was waiting to take him to Newark International Airport for a flight to Florida.

BACK TO MOUNT HEBRON

Before he went to his family home, Aldrin was walking the halls of one of his academic homes.

He was shown around Mount Hebron Middle School by the school’s principal, Jill Sack, and some of her students. The tour was closed to press.

He was shown around Mount Hebron Middle School by the school’s principal, Jill Sack, and some of her students. The tour was closed to press.

But he could be seen visiting the school’s greenhouse with various people, including Interim Schools Superintendent Ron Bolandi, before they went back into the school.

After Aldrin and the group that accompanied him came out, he stopped for a moment on the front steps to pose for photos with students and faculty while joking with them.

It was Sack’s first time meeting the legendary astronaut whose name will be gracing the school that she oversees.

“It was exciting. He was very gracious with the students as we were going in and out of some classrooms,” Sack said.

Christian Uva, a Mount Hebron student who has spoken out at Board of Education meetings in favor of the renaming, was still thrilled to see a hero of his relive his schoolboy days.

“It’s amazing knowing that he did this just like we do now, walking through and seeing all the memories,” noted Uva.

FEAST FIT FOR BUZZ

Aldrin arrived at the Upper Montclair Country Club around 8:45 a.m. to warm applause from attendees of a breakfast organized for him by fellow Montclair native Alison Sargent, a veteran event planner who organized a Washington, D.C., event in June where Aldrin was a guest speaker.

Sargent, also a member of the Montclair Man on the Moon Committee, gave opening remarks to a small audience that included Mayor Robert Jackson, Deputy Mayor Bob Russo, Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, Bolandi, and members of the Montclair Board of Education.

“We’re so proud and privileged and honored to have Buzz here, and to be able to celebrate the renaming of Mount Hebron School,” Sargent said.

Bolandi then spoke, calling Aldrin “a true American hero” as Bolandi recalled as a young man seeing the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Jackson, a lifelong resident, said while there have been many notable people who have come from Montclair, the township is most well-known for being the home of Buzz Aldrin.

Gill, another Montclair native, joked that “charting the course to the Moon might have a little bit easier” than the renaming of Mount Hebron, which involved several public meetings and opposition from some students and adults.

Aldrin then offered his memories of growing up in Montclair, including how he became a much more serious student while attending Mount Hebron in the 1940s.

After his remarks, he spoke further about present-day Mount Hebron Middle School to The Times, as it will eventually bear his name.

“We expect a lot of good things coming out of a middle school that prepares people for the real world, not the lovely world, comfortable world of Montclair.”

Buzz Aldrin returns to N.J. childhood home

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

It was one giant leap into the past.

“My sister actually got married just around there,” Astronaut Buzz Aldrin said, pointing to a side yard while touring the house he grew up in Tuesday. Walking further into the backyard and peering into a detached garage, he said he has a “lot of interesting stories from in there…but I can’t tell you them all.”

Aldrin moved out of the Princeton Place home in Montclair years before he became the second man to walk on the moon. But, the Montclair Board of Education’s recent decision to rename the township middle school Aldrin attended after him drew him back to the Essex County community.

Aldrin was in the area to pick up a lifetime achievement award from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Monday. He returned to his hometown Tuesday for a day of activities commemorating the renaming, including a visit with town and school officials, a private tour of the STEM magnet school that will be named for him, and the visit to this childhood home.

“It’s always great to come back here,” Aldrin said of Montclair.

MORE: Buzz Aldrin’s hometown middle school renamed for him

The first time Dolores Kelly – the current owner of the former Aldrin residence – saw Buzz in the house, she was watching him walk on the moon on her family’s television set.

“We actually have a photo of us watching the moon landing from (inside this house),” she said.

Since then, Aldrin has been back to visit several times. His favorite spot in the house, Kelly said, is the third floor room that used to be his bedroom. The Kelly family still uses it as a bedroom, though they have closed off a small cubby that Buzz has said he used to climb into as a child.

“It’s exciting,” Kelly said of living in the home. “Before we bought this house, I always told my husband that I wanted our home to have something special about it. At the time, I was thinking of something more like a swimming pool, but this is much, much better…It’s like holding a piece of history.”

With the decision to rename Mt. Hebron Middle School, “Buzz Aldrin Middle School,” the whole town may soon be apt to have a greater appreciation for the astronaut’s history.

“Montclair and Buzz Aldrin are now permanently linked together,” Katie Severance, president of the Man on the Moon Committee that advocated for the school’s renaming, said outside Aldrin’s former home Tuesday.

ALSO: 9 things you probably didn’t know about Buzz Aldrin

The group said it is working with the Montclair school district to plan an official renaming ceremony with Buzz. A district spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on his Tuesday visit.

Aldrin said the school is part of a legacy that he is still building. When asked what he wants to be remembered for, he said he’s still got more to do before he could answer.

“The best is yet to come,” he said.

Buzz Aldrin is #inLOVEwithSWITZERLAND.

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Buzz Aldrin lands at library in Douglas County

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Astronaut talks space with families in Highlands Ranch
Mars is even more interesting when a real-life astronaut is talking about it.

An audience of about 340 people gathered at James H. LaRue Library on Oct. 19 to see Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.

The evening started with videos and photos of Aldrin on his space missions — Gemini 12 in 1966 and Apollo 11 in 1969 with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong.

He was accompanied on stage by mission director of Aldrin Enterprises, Christina Korp.

Aldrin, 85, recalled the story of how he got the name “Buzz.”

“My sister pronounced brother as bruzzer,” he said. “So my family called me Buzz for short.”

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr. made Buzz his legal first name in the 1980s.

Aldrin also introduced his new children’s book, “Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet,” which reads from the point of view of a young astronaut on a mission to Mars.

“Upon landing, Aldrin describes how the first explorers — including the reader — will de-dust themselves, set up camp and begin finding resources,” according to space.com.

Among the audience were five students from STEM Academy. They signed up to volunteer months ago.

“We really want to hear Buzz Aldrin speak,” Sebastian Del Barco said. “And of course we want to meet him.”

Del Barco, a sophomore, is in the engineering program at StEM and aspires to be in the aerospace and aero-economics industries. He and his classmates are currently working on an aerospace intern rocket that tracks things like temperature and pressure about 1,500 feet off the ground.

Students in the engineering program at STEM are interested in building everything from robotics to rockets, said Mike Shallenberger, department of chair for engineering.

And now five of those students can say they’ve listened to an astronaut speak about the marvels of space.

Montclair BOE approves renaming of school for Buzz Aldrin

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

The Buzz Aldrin Middle School is a go.

The Montclair Board of Education, at its meeting this past Monday, Oct. 19, approved the renaming of Mount Hebron Middle School on Bellevue Avenue to reflect the name of its famous alum. Six board members voted in favor of the resolution for the name change. Board member Eve Robinson abstained.

Ted Dupont speaks in favor of Mount Hebron Middle School being renamed for famed astronaut and Montclair native Buzz Aldrin at the Montclair Board of Education meeting this past Monday, Oct. 19.
STAFF PHOTO BY RICARDO KAULESSAR
Laya Tuazon, an eighth-grade Mount Hebron student, addresses the Montclair BOE at its Oct. 19 meeting, where she states her opposition to her school bearing the name of Buzz Aldrin.
The vote was a culmination of months of effort by a group of residents who had advocated strongly for the grades six-through-eight school to be renamed after the Montclair native who was the second man to walk on the Moon in 1969.

Some members of the Man on the Moon Committee spoke in favor of the renaming, but there were some other adults present who stated their dissent. However, it was Mount Hebron students, for and against the name change, who stole the evening.

Later in the meeting, BOE members commented on the resolution before voting.

David Cummings said he was not “really comfortable” voting for the name change because the process leading up to it was not “a complete community effort.” Cummings then expressed the concern that the district could see in the future numerous suggestions for other schools to be named after prominent people who have been more active in supporting the public schools than Aldrin.

However, Cummings did reiterate his support for Aldrin, citing his achievements.

Laura Hertzog said that naming a school after Aldrin should not be predicated on how much he has done for the Montclair Public Schools, but rather based on the merits of his larger accomplishments.

As Herzog said simply, “You had me at you walked on the moon.”

After the vote, Board President Jessica De Koninck told The Montclair Times that there is no exact timetable for the renaming since there are many issues that the district administration has to deal with before tackling a name change.

YOUTHFUL VIEWS

Katrina Isidore, one of five students opposed to the renaming, said that the school was not named for Mount Hebron, a city in Israel, but for the Hebrew word “Hebron” that means “alliance.” She said that word meaning for Hebron carries meaning for the students of its namesake school.

“Alliance, bond, support, a place where students can feel like they have all those things, a place when they can have strong sense of community, and overall a good school,” Isidore said.

Isidore, along with the other opposing students, said that while they did not agree with a name change, they held Aldrin in high regard. The other points of dissent to the renaming were that the money that would be raised for new signage to reflect the name change should go toward funding programs at the school, and that the school name should remain for future generations.

Emma Uva, one of two Mount Hebron students in favor of renaming the school, said it would be an honor for Aldrin in his hometown that would go beyond the bust of him placed the lobby of his old school as well as the plaque dedicated to him at another alma mater, Montclair High School.

“Say you do something huge, like make a scientific discovery or step onto a place thousands and thousands of miles from home, and all you were recognized with was a few pieces of metal,” Uva said. “Is that enough recognition?”

After the children finished speaking, de Koninck commended them for being “articulate” and “brave” in making their presentations.

Then it was the grownups’ turn to comment.

buzzing with debate

Margaret Saraco, a math teacher at Mount Hebron and the mother of two Mount Hebron grads, said she was opposed, as she took issue with Aldrin having not taken an active role in the school after graduating, and cited the “financial burden” of changing school signs and literature. Saraco made a recommendation to the Man on the Moon Committee based on a committee member telling her recently that they would raise money for the signage change.

“Why not fund a scholarship in Mr. Aldrin’s name for graduating seniors in the field of astronomy? That would truly be an honor,” Saraco said. “Consider our Mount Hebron traditions before voting on a name change.

Ted Dupont spoke in the affirmative about the name change.

Dupont, holding a miniature rocket marked with the words “Buzz Aldrin Middle School,” said the school carrying the name would be “the right thing to do.”

“Let’s rename it for Buzz Aldrin, for ourselves, and for Montclair, and honor an American hero,” Dupont said.