Living Out the Legacy

Honoring the memory of STARS to STEM president’s mentor and inspiration

RUBY MCMAHON

Robert Meyer, former science teacher at ELHS, unexpectedly passed away on August 29. For Niantic Center School teacher and STARS to STEM President Diane Swan, Mr. Meyer wasn’t just a science teacher, he was an inspiration for getting the planetarium project back on its feet.

Mr. Robert Meyer at the place that he loved- the golf course.

In 1969, citizens of East Lyme voted to either install a pool or a planetarium. The town collectively voted for a planetarium. The planetarium was installed, however, it was dismantled in 2013 due to its need for expensive 21st century technology.

In 2017, Ms. Swan began her fundraising mission to renovate the space and reincorporate the planetarium back into the high school’s educational opportunities.

Ms. Swan attributes Mr. Meyer for her determination and the progress made for the renewal of the planetarium.

“Mr. Meyer didn’t give up on me. He was the kind of teacher who, even though you failed, would do everything in his power to help you succeed,” she said.

Ms. Swan’s goal now is to pay Mr. Meyer’s legacy forward. His inspiration allowed Ms. Swan and her classmates to explore their passions and to be successful.

“I feel so happy knowing that his vision and mission at the high school has not been abandoned, and I’m going to continue to try to pay it forward. Continuing to honor his legacy is by making sure that the planetarium comes back online and that we utilize it like the asset it is,” Ms. Swan said.

In the past three months, STARS to STEM raised over $30,000, and purchased the projector in August. Ms. Swan hopes the projector will be installed by late November, in time to give the graduating class of 2022 the opportunity to experience the planetarium.

STARS to STEM also participates in events such as the Farmers Market Kids Day, the Annual Lions Club Art Show, and the Artisan and Vintage Market to spread the word about the cause.

The planetarium will be used for educational purposes during the academic day, and enrichment activities at night and weekends. Ms. Swan hopes that with the planetarium’s availability, students, children, and adults will be allowed to expand their knowledge and passion for space.

“Mr. Meyer ignited my passion in science, showed me what it meant to be a leader, and advocate for myself and others. I want to be able to give that inspiration to other students, and it is my hope the planetarium will do that,” Ms. Swan said.

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