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Fayetteville native to pilot Discovery shuttle

Posted March 11, 2009

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— Douglas Byrd High School graduate Tony Antonelli is taking the school's motto "Dare to Soar" to new heights.

Tony Antonelli Fayetteville native to pilot Discovery shuttle Shuttle crew includes Fayetteville man

Antonelli is the pilot of the space shuttle Discovery, which is set to launch Thursday night for a two-week mission to deliver equipment to the International Space Station.

Former teachers describe Antonelli, a member of the Class of 1985, as smart and quiet. He always wanted to be an astronaut, they said.

"That was a dream of his since he was in high school – actually, middle school," science teacher Robert Bass said.

"He was an outstanding student. He was very conscientious – just a quiet, strong student," retired English teacher Patty Driggers said.

Antonelli, who lives in Houston, studied aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Discovery mission will be his first trip into space.

"I have a lot of students who have gone on to amazing careers," Driggers said, "but there's something to being an astronaut."

Some current Douglas Byrd students said they hope one day to soar like Antonelli.

"Since I was a little kid, I've been wanting to fly. That's all I talked about," student Johnathan Gagne said. "For someone to actually follow their dreams and get it, that's big stuff."

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  • discowhale Mar 11, 2009

    ...and Today's "Gotta Have Our Daily NC Tie In" story from the Local Media is...not quite right. WRAL needs writers and online editors who OWN a Merriam-Websters or a Funk & Wagnall's.

    Lt. Cmdr. Antonelli is a NATIVE of Detroit Michigan. The term "native" doesn't mean, someone who lived in, or graduated from "X" city. It means born there.

    Given the definition usage here, I'm a "native" of 7 states and two different countries.