Press Release

Growing Aviation Academy Receives State Award, Partnership Helps Develop Nationwide Curriculum Share

Apr 2, 2019  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

The Avi­a­tion Acad­e­my through the Mar­i­on Region­al Career Cen­ter has received a part­ner­ship award from the Indi­ana Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion. The two-year-old col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gram was pre­sent­ed the acco­lade dur­ing the IDOE’s annu­al Awards for Excel­lence. The pro­gram was devel­oped by a small group of indi­vid­u­als who share in the same vision to give stu­dents a hands-on edu­ca­tion in avi­a­tion. In lieu of learn­ing avi­a­tion in a class­room, stu­dents are at the Mar­i­on Airport.

An instru­men­tal part­ner is long­time edu­ca­tor and avi­a­tion board leader, Jim McK­in­ney. For the past fifty years, I have seen the poten­tial for young peo­ple in avi­a­tion. I have had a strong desire to do some­thing to share my enthu­si­asm with young men and women inter­est­ed in avi­a­tion. When the oppor­tu­ni­ty came along to devel­op a high school avi­a­tion pro­gram, I was excit­ed to share my vision with the local school admin­is­tra­tion.” McK­in­ney expressed he was elat­ed that his vision had mate­ri­al­ized and has been suc­cess­ful since its intro­duc­tion. It was with their sup­port that my dream for cre­at­ing a high school avi­a­tion pro­gram could come to fruition. I am grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty that has been award­ed me to work with these young men and women, and to share my pas­sion for flying.”

The oth­er part­ner­ing indi­vid­u­als include MRCC Direc­tor Mike Rip­perg­er, Avi­a­tion Teacher Scott Simp­son, Avi­a­tion Main­te­nance Teacher Jeff McLaugh­lin, and for­mer Mar­i­on School Board Mem­ber Dr. Har­ry Hall.

The MRCC Avi­a­tion Acad­e­my is made pos­si­ble through the MRCC, City of Mar­i­on, Mar­i­on Munic­i­pal Air­port, Air Mar­i­on, & the Jim McK­in­ney Air & Space Foun­da­tion. In March, a press release through Mar­i­on Com­mu­ni­ty Schools stat­ed, these part­ners see avi­a­tion as a grow­ing area and one of the keys to attract­ing new busi­ness­es to Grant County.”

Pic­tured in Pho­to: (Left to Right) Mar­i­on Com­mu­ni­ty Schools Super­in­ten­dent Brad Lind­say, MRCC Direc­tor Mike Rip­perg­er, Black­ford HS Senior Nick Lee, Black­ford HS Junior Emma Jacobs, Avi­a­tion Acad­e­my Instruc­tor Scott Simp­son, City of Mar­i­on May­or Jess Alumbaugh

MRCC Direc­tor Mike Rip­perg­er says the pro­gram is enhanc­ing on its own while also assist­ing in the devel­op­ment of a nation­wide 4‑year cur­ricu­lum through the AOPA (Air­craft Own­ers & Pilots Asso­ci­a­tion). Mar­i­on was cho­sen two years ago as 1 of 150 schools to assist the AOPA which, once com­plet­ed, will be avail­able to all schools. Very few schools in Indi­ana have an avi­a­tion pro­gram. Rip­perg­er explained they uti­lize local resources to help pre­pare stu­dents for careers. MRCC is always look­ing for new oppor­tu­ni­ties to pro­vide stu­dents with jobs. The Avi­a­tion indus­try is look­ing at a short­age of employ­ees in a cou­ple years. Mar­i­on offers a qual­i­ty pro­gram that few schools offer. With­out this part­ner­ship, the pro­gram wouldn’t be possible.”

Mar­i­on May­or Jess Alum­baugh expressed grat­i­tude for the col­lab­o­ra­tive effort. The City of Mar­i­on val­ues our part­ner­ship with Mar­i­on Com­mu­ni­ty Schools and the Mar­i­on Air­port. The Avi­a­tion Acad­e­my pro­vides a spe­cial career path­way for our area high school stu­dents and pre­pares them for a life­time of success.”

Stu­dents may enroll in Aviation/​Flight Oper­a­tions or Avi­a­tion Mechan­ics. There is also Intro to Avi­a­tion. Cur­rent­ly, 4 stu­dents are enrolled in Oper­a­tions, 11 in mechan­ics, and 5 are tak­ing Intro. Offi­cial drone cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is planned to be offered next year. The MRCC offers 16 pro­grams over­all, with more on the brink. The Career Center’s Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty & IT Acad­e­my also received an award of excel­lence this year from the IDOE.

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