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How the Richmond airport is helping students take off toward future goals

Posted at 3:04 PM, May 19, 2023

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- High school students from Henrico County went from classroom to cockpit during a hands-on academic experience at the Richmond International Airport.

The day-long field trip was in partnership with the airport's ARC program.

The program aims to educate students on the various job options available to them after they graduate.

From seeing firsthand how planes operate, to learning how they’re engineered, students spoke with airport employees that help the 'small city' operate.

"We have a fire department, we have a police department, we have plumbers, we have electricians, we have maintenance people," Capital Airport Commission CEO Perry Miller said. "We have people who make sure the place is clean and hygienically safe for people to navigate, so every discipline that you can think of to manage a city, it takes place here."

Dr. Monica Manns, Henrico Schools' Chief Equity, Diversity, and Opportunity Officer, said this is one of several trips they’re planning for students to help them prepare for life after graduation.

"One of the things out of our office that we’ve been trying to do is to create opportunities for our students about what happens to them when they graduate, particularly around being employed, enrolled, and enlisted," Manns said.

Monica Manns
Henrico Schools' Chief Equity, Diversity, and Opportunity Officer Dr. Monica Manns

She said she was amazed by both the operations of the airport but also the reaction of her students.

"For them to actually see academics to action, I think was really exciting for them," she said.

"Just fascinated by all the different jobs and parts and everything about the planes," student Daniel Sullivan said.

"This is exactly what I need actually. I don't like just reading about things because it's all kind of like a textbook but if I actually get to come and see what it’s about and have explained things to me to my face it really helps and I get a lot more information that way," Alijah Neal added.

RIC ARC program
Alijah Neal

Students like Logan Jetpilot Walker were especially excited.

"I’m going to fly, there's no question, I’m going to fly, I’m going to get into a plane, fly around the world and it's going to be awesome," said Walker.

Logan Jetpilot Walker
Logan Jetpilot Walker

The Freeman High School student said it wasn’t his unique middle name that swayed his decision but experiences like today that led him to his high-flying future.

"I’m really thankful that I got invited here," Walker said. "I think it’s really important to know the possibilities for your future, just seeing a list like a firefighter, pilot, police officer, engineer, it’s like those are just words I want to see what it means to be in an airport community," he said.

Dr. Manns said attendees were offered this experience based on an HCPS interest questionnaire.

"So we are actually able to go into our database and pull up students who have expressed interest in different areas and those are the students we target," Manns said.

RIC ARC program

Hoping to prepare students as best they can for post-graduation, Manns said the district wants to do trips like these at least twice a year.

"Many of my students are interested in engineering or interested in being a pilot and so they came with that focus," she said. "But then what I think what they got from this experience is a broad breath of all the opportunities that exist."

You can learn more about ARC program by directly emailing Arc@flyrichmond.com.

There will soon be a tab available on the Richmond International Airport website.

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