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True north star

This Nebraska high school is aiming for the sky

Lincoln, Nebraska’s North Star High School introduced AOPA’s You Can Fly aviation STEM curriculum in 2019, and instructor Amanda Woodward (below) has guided the program to new heights.
Photography by David Tulis
Zoomed image
Teacher Amanda Woodward helps student Alejandro Alex Lopez assemble a hot air balloon from tissue paper to learn how science, technology, engineering, and science concepts apply to aviation studies at Northstar High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, October 4, 2022. Photo by David Tulis.

Her enthusiastic approach to teaching the aviation principles laid out in the You Can Fly program has resulted in more than 200 students embracing the program, graduates pursuing aviation careers and higher education in aviation, and a $3.5 million grant to expand the program in a new 13,000-square-foot facility now under construction on site. Stan Haas, Lincoln Public Schools skilled and technical sciences coordinator, calls the program the “H3 career path.” The elective courses taught at North Star High School will lead students to high-wage, high-demand, high-skill careers, he says.

The Lincoln Public Schools Aviation and Technical Education Focus Program has offered three courses in aviation maintenance, flight, and aviation engineering. More than 200 students have participated in the program since the 2019-2020 introduction. LPS officials first considered an aviation focus in 2018 and members of the staff attended the AOPA You Can Fly High School Symposium in 2019. Lincoln North Star High School dedicated a classroom, one instructor, and added the electives in the 2019-2020 school year, but they quickly ran out of space. Duncan Aviation, a major employer in the area, led the expansion initiative with a $3.335 million donation in May 2022. Other contributors include the school, community, and the Boys and Girls Club of Lincoln, as well as these companies: Gulfstream, Garmin, Lincoln Community Foundation, and Walter Scott Foundation.

“With the new building and new facilities, we’re going to be able to get equipment that is going to make the lab opportunities and the hands-on opportunities in this class to be really in line with what is happening in the industry,” Woodward said.

The new facility will have classrooms, a simulator lab, commons, and a hangar.

“I personally joined AOPA in my early 20s because I was a big supporter of their advocacy for general aviation,” said Chairman Todd Duncan. “The high school curriculum AOPA developed is one example of this, and their ability to create unique and robust lessons that showcase technical aviation training for young people will help to feed interest in aviation for a long time. We are thrilled to be able to support a public school program that utilizes this curriculum and that will help encourage aviation careers and understanding in Nebraska for years to come.”

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Healthy future

Williams International donates to You Can Fly

The AOPA Foundation announced a substantial $500,000 donation from Williams International in support of You Can Fly and its innovative High School Aviation STEM Curriculum—helping to ensure a healthy future for aviation and aerospace.

The generous gift will enable You Can Fly to further introduce high school students to rewarding career opportunities in aviation through its free STEM curriculum, which has already opened doors and minds for tens of thousands of young people across the country.

“AOPA is grateful for Williams International’s support. We have a shared interest in building general aviation and making flying viable for generations to come,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “AOPA and Williams International are always at the forefront of what’s next for aviation, and the generosity of partners like Williams makes the AOPA Foundation’s You Can Fly initiative and its tremendous impact possible.”

Williams International CEO Gregg Williams announced the gift and said that he is living proof that teaching our youth about aviation can spark a lifelong passion, a terrific career, and the ability to make an impact.

“We have always been a leader in advancing education through a combination of apprenticeships, our internal education program, the aviation industry’s best rotational engineering program, and our WINGS flight training program. This donation to You Can Fly supports this vision, as it’s a significant step to help high school students get a head start in careers in aviation,” Williams said.

Julie Walker
Julie Summers Walker
AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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