SEATTLE — Local business and government leaders joined students, educators and alumni from Raisbeck Aviation High School onboard a specially themed Alaska Airlines jet Thursday for the grand opening of the new facility for public, college preparatory, aviation-themed high school. The “Spirit of Education,” a Boeing 737-900ER, is dedicated to the students and staff of Raisbeck Aviation High School and will fly for six months around the carrier’s route network.
Among the passengers onboard Flight 9401 was senior Austin Spores of Redmond, Wash., who commutes two hours to school every day. Spores, who is getting his private pilot’s license, plans to pursue a career as a commercial pilot.
Like all students who choose to attend RAHS instead of a traditional high school, Spores had a strong interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Last summer, he interned as a dispatcher for Seattle-based Kenmore Air and hopes to study aeronautics at the University of North Dakota or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University after graduating next June.
“I’ve been surrounded by aviation my entire life, so being in an aviation-themed environment like Raisbeck Aviation High School is a dream come true,” Spores said.
Alaska Airlines employees have mentored and volunteered with students interested in commercial aviation since the school’s inception in 2004. As a founding sponsor, the airline pledged $1.5 million in a public/private partnership to build the $44.5 million state-of-the-art school designed to educate the next generation of scientists, engineers, and other aviation and aerospace-focused professionals.
“Investing in Raisbeck Aviation High School is an investment in the youth of our community,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska Airlines’ president and CEO. “Students attending this STEM school are poised to bring much-needed innovation to our industry, which could further improve the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of commercial aviation.”
Raisbeck Aviation High School, part of Highline Public Schools, is located on the grounds of the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field to encourage partnerships with aviation and aerospace leaders and ensure relevance in the instructional program.
“Having this school on the grounds of the Museum of Flight, so close to more than 200 aviation industry businesses like Boeing and Alaska Airlines, gives our students something truly special — an unparalleled chance to be simultaneously immersed in learning and industry,” said Reba Gilman, Raisbeck Aviation High School CEO and principal.
Highlights of Raisbeck Aviation High School:
- 400 students from 27 school districts travel by car, train, boat/ferry or bus to attend the public school, located in Tukwila, Wash.
- Students of RAHS consistently rank in the top 5 percent in Washington state assessments. The school’s performance ranks 252nd out of 22,000 nationwide high schools according to US News & World Report. About three-quarters of RAHS students intend to pursue STEM-related education at universities including Stanford, Harvard, Cornell and MIT.
- The school is designed for project-based instructional programs, with labs that enable students to build robots, rockets, model airplanes and even a real airplane.
- Rather than a traditional library, the school provides classroom libraries and access to the Museum of Flight’s extensive archives and library. A computer is provided to each student.
- During the summer, the school will be used by the museum for science camps — assuring year-round utilization of the building as well as introducing younger children to Raisbeck Aviation High School.
- All RAHS students are connected with a mentor in an aviation/aerospace-related field. Students are also placed in internships in high-demand STEM workplaces such as Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port of Seattle.
Supporting education in its home state is a top priority for Alaska Airlines. Since 2007, the carrier has contributed more than $6.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions to 303 Washington educational institutions and organizations. Recent gifts include $150,000 to Western Washington University’s Institute for Energy Studies, $75,000 to the Highline Community College Foundation for student scholarships,$700,000 to the Independent Colleges of Washington and $1.5 million to the University of Washington.