PALMDALE – Speeches and presentations by local and state dignitaries punctuated the ribbon-cutting ceremony held Friday for The Palmdale Aerospace Academy.
The new independent charter school is a joint venture between the City of Palmdale, the Palmdale School District and the AERO Institute, and will offer a project-based learning environment inspired by Palmdale’s aerospace heritage, said Headmaster Lauran Herman.
“The academy is founded on the idea that, by working together, we can bring real world relevance to education and spark the imagination of our youth,” said Herman.
“The Palmdale Aerospace Academy is going to be a game changer,” said Sandy Corrales-Eneix, Palmdale School District (PSD) trustee.
The academy will open to 540 students, from grades seventh through ninth, on September 5. Its curriculum will emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills with challenging projects and hands-on activities designed to prepare its graduates for college and careers in the 21st century, officials said.
“It certainly is an educational opportunity for our residents, but this is really a workforce development program, as well,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford.
“We’ve got three billion kids from Asia that absolutely want a job in America, and they bring over their STEM technology and they grab a job here,” said Assemblyman Steve Knight. “We want our kids to have those jobs.”
At Friday’s opening ceremony, the Palmdale Aerospace Academy received proclamations from Knight, Corrales-Eneix on behalf of the Palmdale School District, Ledford on behalf of the City of Palmdale, Lisa Moulton on behalf of Sen. Sharon Runner’s office, and J.D. Kennedy, on behalf of Congressman Buck McKeon’s office. The academy was also awarded a check for $40,000 from PsomasFMG.
Following the ceremony, parents and incoming students toured the campus, which is located at the former site of Cactus Middle School.
“I’m excited that the colleges will notice that I went to the Aerospace Academy and then they’ll pick me over other kids from other schools,” said incoming eighth grader Ryan Welch.
“This is an innovative, new way of learning that will hopefully provide a better future for him than just the regular public schools,” said Ryan’s mother, Gina Welch.
Assistant Headmaster Matthew Winheim said the campus was changed to add a Wi Fi infrastructure.
“So that students that have digital devices can bring them on the campus and use them as part of their learning environment,” Winheim said, adding that students will be able to take notes on their laptops or iPads in class.
Winheim said the Academy will focus on STEM education in a collaborative and professional environment.
“What that means is our faculty is working toward training our students to be proficient in the 21st century skills they’ll need for success in the workforce,” Winheim said. “We don’t want our kids just to get into college; we want them to be successful in college and to finish college. We also want them to know that there are employers in the Antelope Valley who need people that are trained in the skills that they are learning. We’re breaking those barriers down and getting them involved in very specific and intentional process.”
For more information on the Palmdale Aerospace Academy, visit www.palmdalesd.org/tpaa.