Making Connections Across the Seven Seas

Aviation High School has offered students many unique opportunities to interact with industry leaders throughout its existence. This fall, senior-to-be Anastasia Pallis will travel to the historic city of Kobe, Japan for one week as part of the annual SeaFair Ambassador program. Pallis is the first AHS student to be offered an Ambassador position, and she offered the Phoenix Flyer an inside look into the process she went through in order to earn this unique opportunity.

Q: Which company is this program being run through?

A: This program is being run through Seafair. Seafair basically runs the summer festivals around the area, such as the Seafair Pirates, the Blue Angels and hydroplane races. The program has been going on since the 80s and they offer it for kids that get more involved in the community and learn how much they can affect their local and global communities by going to Japan every year.

Q: How did you hear about this opportunity?

A: I heard about it in the NOTAM and my first period teacher read it to me on a Monday morning, and I thought that would be a stellar opportunity.

Q: What process did you go through to be selected?

A: I had to fill out an application and write an essay about the community activities that impacted my life the most and I had to go through the interview process with four company officials, one of them being the CEO of Seafair.

Q: What influences you the most?

A: I coach a special olympics team all year round and that has the most impact on me in my lifetime.

Q: What kind of questions did they ask you?

A: They asked me about myself, they asked me to talk about what I wrote in my essay and why that impacted me.

Q: On a scale of one to ten how nervous were you going into the interview?

A: I’m going to say, going into the office I was about a seven but then once I got in there I was totally relaxed and it went really well.

Q: How were you informed of being selected?

A: Well actually I got a email but I read it on their website first and then checked my email. So I kind of already knew before I got the congratulations email confirming my internship.

Q: What experiences at AHS do you think helped you go through this process?

A: Being an intern for the career center helped me because I have gained a little bit more confidence in talking to adults and people of important stature. And also being forced to present to industry officials really helped because I wasn’t as nervous.

Q: Many people take a long time to build enough confidence to be able to go in for an interview, what helped you prepare yourself mentally?

A: I was motivated by the scholarship, and that gave me a lot of motivation to go in and do it. And I knew that if I just put a smile on and went in there and acted confidently and believed in myself then I knew I could make a good impression.

Q: What are you excited for?

A: I’m excited to just go to Japan, I never really thought I would be going there at this age by myself. I am just excited for the new experience and learning about the culture and everything.

Q: Do you have any worries about the actual trip itself?

A: I’m only going to be there for a week so I’m worried that I’m going to be so culture shocked when I get there and I won’t have time to adjust and then I’m going to come back.

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Securing Schools One Link at a Time

The season of giving is upon us, and what better way to do it than by participating in the National Honor Society (NHS) fundraiser that will send money to Aviation’s sister school in Uganda? The money that will be raised will be used to help build a security wall around the school, to help prevent children from being abducted and killed for their body parts.

Using the security links students purchase, AHS willl build a symbolic “security wall” around our school along with supporting the construction of the real wall in Uganda. The links will be set around our school representing the solidarity and the strength the AHS community has towards this charitable task.

Helping people is like a chain, its more effective when its the right size.

“The more money we raise as a school, the better chance we’ll have in helping our sister school build a security wall,” said Spanish teacher and NHS advisor Andrew Ward.

The fundraiser has been going on for the past ten days. Over 600 links have been sold, however NHS still needs to sell more links in order to reach their goal of two thousand dollars.

The last time this type of fundraiser was conducted was in 2007, when AHS raised money for students in the Mukono boarding school. In that fundraiser students actually visited the school and met the students who sponsored them.  

The President of NHS Serena Simkus explains, “Well, we did this fundraiser four years ago, but nobody at the school has ever participated in it since. It’s different from many of our other fundraisers in that it is raising money for a charity outside the U.S., whereas Pennies for Patients and other fundraisers we do are more local.”

The fundraiser is a spirit competition. Many people that missed the chance of contributing to the Thanksgiving food drive have been given another opportunity. The number of links that have been bought will be tracked with the advisory of the donator. The yellow links represent the freshmen, black links students see down the hall represent the sophomores, the red links represent the juniors, and the white links represent the seniors.

 “The NHS is going to ‘HANDSOMELY REWARD’ the individual advisory that buys the most links in support of this project,”said Ward, “also, the class that buys the most links will receive spirit points.”  

In order to make this competition a success there needs to be better school involvement.Currently Mr. Hoehne’s advisory is in first with 324 links, Mr. McComb in second with 264, and Mr. Savishinsky in third with 205. Mr. Kumakura’s advisory on the other hand sits in last with just one link and Mr. Joshi with five links. Advisories still have up to one week to donate and compete with the other advisories.

“I want to help my community and my school, which is why I bought the links,” said Freshmen Khoa Ngyuen.  

 “We need help in creating a dynamic, interactive, competitive environment,”  Ward said, “When there is competition, fundraising becomes fun and goals are more easily met.”

Simkus shares much of the same hope for the AHS community.“We plan on making this fundraiser a huge success by getting students involved in helping this cause,” Said Simkus, “we’re hoping the spirit competition and the award for the winning advisory will help spur participation as well.”

The fundraiser is not just limited to students that attend AHS. Families are also encouraged to donate.

Aerospace Education Ideas Launched at Cantwell

On October 24, 2011, a hearing was held at theMuseum of Flight by Senator Maria Cantwell, who is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, and the newly appointed chair of the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee. The hearing was held to address a range of current concerns in the aviation industry. Leading industry CEO’s and education representatives reported on progress that their companies and schools were making, in order to inform Senator Cantwell on the subject and hopefully spark major reform in the industry.

Senator Cantwell plans to bring information from the hearing to the Senate, and try to convince the federal government to take a larger initiative towards reforming the industry. The Senator and many others agree that the industry is at a major turning point, and initiatives need to be taken quickly.

“We are at a crossroads,” said Cantwell, “there is an increase in a demand for aerospace products with the potential workforce who’s majority of the workers can retire in the next ten years.” Aviation and aerospace companies around the state are facing these same issues.

Michael Greenwood, Senior Manager for Boeing’s Aerospace Academic Alignment Team, said that Boeing faces a unique challenge with its workforce. In addition to the challenges of the 787 Dreamliner and acquisition of the U.S. tanker contract, Boeing faces a staffing problem, as 40% of the engineering workforce at Boeing will be eligible to retire within the next few years.

Many industry representatives at the hearing emphasized the lack of fundamental skills in the new workforce, and cited the need for a serious raise in education funding to solve these problems.

“It is once again time for the American labor movement to pressure the public and private sectors to adequately fund the education of the American worker,” said Thomas M. McCarty, president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, “it is not acceptable that qualified students are denied entry into our state universities for lack of funding.”

The focus of almost all the requests to the Senator were centered around the need for more government funding in education in programs that would either make investments to create more classes, or investments to improve apprenticeship, high school, and post high school education.

All of the representatives there addressed the need for inspiring students to enjoy math and science. Many feel that the lack of hands on experience for students is causing them to run away from math and science. Two of the major proposals to solving this problem were offering more shop classes in order to give students technical manufacturing capabilities, and showing the real world application of STEM education. Both business and education leaders agreed upon this point and seemed ready to offer each other support.

Even AHS Principal Reba Gilman testified. “Aviation High is a college prep high school for students who have a passion for Aviation and Aerospace. It was conceived in response to the critical need to improve student achievement in math and science.”

At the hearing, Gilman addressed the need for more cooperation between professionals in the industry and education.

“The formalization of a relationship with the FAA by having the agency proved a full-time staff person at the school, offer paid internships to students and help expose and familiarize our students and staff with cutting edge technologies such as UAVS, Next Gen standards, and more,” suggested Gilman.

She also encouraged “the committee to consider working with industry, federal agencies and Aviation High to help replicate schools like ours in other parts of Washington state and the country.”

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