Students from three of Des Moines’ high schools who have been part of the Central Campus aviation engineering technologies program received honors this month for excellence in aviation.
Brandon McGill of East High School received the superintendent’s award for outstanding performance in aviation; Tomas Read of Hoover High School and Dillon Wells of North High School received senior recognition awards for excellence in their study of aviation.
The awards were given May 15 at the district’s aviation engineering technologies department celebration of the school-to-work program, which began in 1998 with the Iowa Air National Guard’s 132nd Fighter Wing and ended at the completion of this year due to the federal government’s decision to retire F-16s.
Past graduates of the program attended the ceremony, along with select members of the 132nd Fighter Wing and Fire Department; Gary McClanahan, director of Central Campus; Jerome Bradley, department chairman; Richard Graves, lead teacher; and Col. Randy Greenwood, maintenance commander with the Iowa Air National Guard.
Each senior who completed the school-to-work program received a certificate and photo with the student dressed in a blue jumpsuit and taken at the cockpit of the F-16 jets they worked on, a shot reminiscent of the movie “Top Gun.”
Greenwood awarded plaques of appreciation to Bradley, who spearheaded the program, and Graves, who mentored the students in the program. The aviation program is the second-oldest such program in the nation and the only FAA 147-certified program out of more than 4,200 school districts in the Midwest.
A plaque was awarded to Greenwood and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin C. Hutcheson to commemorate the 14-year collaboration with Iowa’s 132nd Fighter Wing school-to-work program and to Graves, who is retiring, for his many years of dedication to students.
The graduating class of 2013 includes the last students to work side by side with the trained professionals in the National Guard in the school-to-work program. With the mission change of the 132nd, officials hope to continue an internship program with a different focus.
Interested students should call 285-6949 or 242-7846 to discuss interest in the aviation program.