Ellen Ochoa Middle School rose from an expanse of undeveloped sagebrush in an almost forgotten corner of the Pasco School District. Today it stands as a tribute to the Pasco voters who supported the construction bond in the 2000 election.
The school is named for Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female NASA astronaut. She is heralded as a national role model for Hispanics, young women, aspiring scientists and anyone who believes that excellence will eventually find its recognition and reward. A veteran of four space flights, Dr. Ochoa logged almost 1,000 hours in space. She spent a few of those hours playing flute while she and her crew members revolved around Earth at 17,500 miles per hour.
Opened on August 28, 2002, Ochoa Middle School was the sixth school built using the 1988 Longfellow Elementary prototype design. A science-technology theme was used to reflect both the school’s namesake and to inspire students toward studies in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.
In April 2002, Dr. Ochoa was a Mission Specialist on the Shuttle Atlantis for an 11-day mission to deliver and install trusses at the International Space Station. Stowed away in the cargo hold was the first Ochoa Middle School flag designed with the school’s rocket logo. Dr. Ochoa returned the flag to the school when she visited as a special guest at the 2002 dedication and it remains on permanent display. She visits the school every three years to meet with students and speak about her work.