Aviation High Annex graduates its first class

By Betsy Scheinbart

The new Aviation High School Annex at Kennedy Airport graduated 24 students June 27, the first to complete a specialized program supported by the Port Authority and the airline industry.

“These 24 graduates have helped to write history in the first year of the new millennium. Their graduation is proof positive of the success of the combined public-private effort to provide training for future careers in a field that is of vital importance to our local economy,” said Borough President Claire Shulman.

Aviation High School, which is based in Long Island City, has been preparing students for jobs in the airline industry for 63 years.

The new annex, which occupies a 5,000-square-foot, $800,000 training facility at JFK, allows students to gain hands-on experience working on state-of-the-art aircraft technology. The annex was developed by the Port Authority and members of the aviation industry.

“This class has proven the newly opened Aviation High School Annex to be a rousing success,” said William DeCota, director of aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“The first-class training these graduates received is a fine example of what can be achieved when public agencies and private organizations work together for the betterment of communities,” DeCota said.

The graduates received specialized training that will qualify them as certified aircraft mechanics, but most of them have plans to further their studies at college.

“The Aviation High School Annex would not have been possible without the help of the Borough President Claire Shulman, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), the Port Authority and participating airline and private sector businesses,” said Eileen Taylor, principal of the school.

Several airlines offered the students internships, including Jet Blue, North American Airline and Delta.

“Our school and the students who will benefit will always be grateful. We hope the annex will be a model for school-to-career programs throughout the country,” Taylor said.

More than half the graduates interned with the Kew Gardens-based airline Jet Blue, and two plan to continue working there instead of going on to college.

Several graduates are going to technical schools like City Technical College and three received scholarships to the College of Aeronautics in Jackson Heights. Others have scholarships to Queens Collage and N.Y. Technical College.

Aviation High School is a fully accredited New York City public school. Many successful graduates now work at LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark International airports, the Port Authority said.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

More from Around New York