McNair/Academic High School, located at Second and Coles streets since 1997, was named after Ronald E. McNair, the African-American crew member of the Challenger, which exploded in flight in 1986. He had been a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratories and a NASA astronaut with the Challenger Space Shuttle.
Noted for the academic achievements of its students, the high school began in 1976 at the former Rutgers University Building on 168 Sip Avenue and later moved to the Ukrainian Catholic School at 16 Bentley Avenue. Twenty years later it moved to its present site, formerly occupied by Ferris High School and Public School No. 32.
In 2008 McNair was awarded the national Blue Ribbon of Academic Excellence by the US Department of Education.