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«Spring 2024

A love of Aviation & Passion for Education

ON Monday, December 4th, 2023, Lincoln North Star High School and community members in Lincoln, Nebraska, celebrated the completion of a new $5.4 million hangar-style addition to the school’s Aviation and Technical Education Focus Program. The program creates interest in aviation and begins training the next generation of pilots, technicians, engineers, dispatchers, and flight instructors.

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More than seven years ago, the idea of a LPS (Lincoln Public Schools) program focused on aviation curriculum started. Duncan Aviation partnered with LPS and North Star to create an Aviation and Technical Education Focus Program to expose students to the endless opportunities in aviation. There were 150 students enrolled in aviation courses during the 2019 school year, and that number quickly jumped to 215 students in 2021. It became clear the school would need a dedicated space to accommodate the growing aviation focus program. Lead by Connie Duncan, wife of Duncan Aviation Board of Directors Chairman Todd Duncan, Duncan Aviation graciously donated $3.34 million to the program.

A Special Cause

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“The program is so special to me because it brings our family’s love of aviation and my passion of education together,” says Connie. “Education sometimes needs to be reimagined because children do not all learn the same way. The Aviation and Technical Education Focus Program gives students a hands-on experience to learn and see a path toward a really good career. We can change the outcome for so many students by giving them a passion and a reason to graduate from high school.”

With that, the multi-million dollar project began, moving the aviation department from a small, shared space, to a brand new, 13,000-square-foot space near the front of the school, often referred to as one of the only public school airplane hangars in the nation. Because of the upgrades, the program is now able to help more than 317 students learn about and pursue careers in aviation. Students now have the ability to take a new advanced aviation maintenance course, and use industry-standard equipment to perform hands-on projects that reflect the skills an A&P (airframe and powerplant) mechanic needs to have.

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Connie says the program has been successful because of the strong partnerships between North Star and Duncan Aviation.

“We are a model for how businesses and education can partner and have positive outcomes for students and businesses,” she explains. “I also believe it is all about the teacher. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for Amanda and everything she’s done for the program.”

Amanda Woodward, the career and technical education teacher at North Star who leads the program, says she is grateful for all Duncan Aviation has done.“To work with my friends at Duncan Aviation, to get tools in the hands of students, and to teach them how high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand aviation maintenance careers can look is the honor of a lifetime,” she says.

A Newfound Passion

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Julio Ramirez is a senior at North Star and Class President of Skills USA. He has been in the aviation program since his sophomore year and had no background in aviation until his first day in the program.

“I got to see how Mrs. Woodward ran the classes and ever since then, I was hooked,” said Julio. “I want to continue to learn as much as I can about the industry with the goal of becoming a pilot, specifically flying a FedEx plane.”

Julio went on to say that the way we have established a relationship with the school is incredible to see.

“Duncan Aviation has given me the opportunity to get into aviation and find a career I’m passionate about,” says Julio. “Duncan Aviation is incredible, and I love every opportunity I get to see all the aircraft in their hangars. There is such a need for jobs in aviation, and it seems like Duncan Aviation has everything!” c