Aerospace companies gift $7 million to Aviation High School
Boeing leads the way with $4 million to AHS building fund
The Boeing Company announced it would contribute $4 million toward construction of a new facility for Aviation High School (AHS), to be located adjacent to Boeing Field and Tukwila's Museum of Flight.
Several other aerospace companies and individuals also pledged more than $3 million in financial support at an event Monday, March 7 at the museum. The capital campaign now must raise an additional $1.5 million in private funding in order to proceed with ground breaking this summer.
"This funding would not have come together without the inaugural contribution of $3 million from James and Sherry Raisbeck of Raisbeck Engineering and the efforts of Boeing and Alaska Airlines to engage the aviation community," said Highline Public Schools Superintendent John Welch.
Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and a host for Monday's event, characterized the effort to construct the school as an opportunity to build a legacy for future generations.
Albaugh stressed the importance of preparing students for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
"The United States is really at a crossroads - I call it the intellectual disarmament of our nation," said Albaugh, noting that one-half of the engineers at Boeing will retire in the next five years. "I worry about how we're going to keep the aviation industry and our region strong. Aviation High School is key to filling the pipeline of new engineers for the Puget Sound area."
Co-hosting the event, Alaska Airlines Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer said, "AHS students are enthusiastic about learning, dedicated to excellence, and preparing to be our next generation of leaders. Our entire region will benefit from their contributions." Alaska Airlines, which earlier contributed $1 million, said Monday it would increase its gift to $1.5 million.
Construction, on land provided by the museum, will be funded through a public-private partnership that includes the state, the federal government, the Port of Seattle, the school district, and donations from individuals and aerospace companies.
"This is an ideal location. There are over 200 aviation-related businesses that surround the museum," said Aviation High School CEO and Principal Reba Gilman. "Students will have an unparalleled opportunity to interact with mentors and apply their learning."
At Monday's event, retired Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson said he and his wife, Linda, would give $1 million to the capital fund. "The level and quality of work the students are performing is remarkable. We are really glad to be a part of what this school means to our region and to the economy."
Other gifts announced Monday were $1 million from Esterline, $250,000 from TECT Aerospace, and $300,000 from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Peter Anderson, President of Galvin Flying, said he would increase his previous gift to $300,000.
"Aviation High School and Esterline are a perfect fit," said Esterline CEO Brad Lawrence. "With over two-thirds of our business directly related to aviation, and our entire business dependent on engineering, it's in our best interest to support a program like Aviation High School, which will help ensure that the required skills are available to the aviation industry in the future."
"TECT Aerospace and the Glass Foundation are very happy to partner with Highline Public Schools and Aviation High School," said TECT Aerospace President Pete Knapper. "This school provides training that will position young people to take advantage of the abundant career opportunities in the aviation field."
Susan Hutchinson, executive director of the Charles Simonyi Fund, noted that the gift to AHS is in addition to the foundation's $3 million support of the new Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight - completing the West Campus Development. "Aviation High School is the ideal partner to the Museum's Space Gallery next door, and we are proud to enhance the capability of STEM students to realize their dreams through this unique partnership," she said.
Aviation High School is the only aviation-themed, college-preparatory high school in the region. All subjects are taught in the context of aviation, and the curriculum has a STEM emphasis. AHS is part of Highline Public Schools but is open to students from across the Puget Sound region. The school is currently housed in at the Olympic site in Des Moines. Students come from as far away as Olympia, Snohomish, and Everett to attend the school, which has been designated by the state Legislature as a model of STEM excellence and is rapidly gaining a reputation one of the nation's premiere models of STEM learning.
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