The U.S. flag and the U.S. Virgin Islands flags are flying at St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center. Students with career paths in flying and folks involved in youth aviation programs at CTEC got the flags fluttering again.
On Monday there was a ceremony raising new flags donated by V.I. Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. The St. Croix Educational Complex band played the Star Spangled Banner and the V.I. March, and 20 students in the Aviation Academy joined in the flag-raising ceremony.
Aviation Academy instructor Ira Williams said that when he started at CTEC as a new teacher in the fall he noticed something was missing.
It dawned on him there weren’t any flags flying outdoors. He thought that was strange since the school is a government institution in a government building.
Williams said he got approval from CTEC Principal Willard John to proceed with plans to get flags flying and steer the school in the right direction to acknowledge the flag.
The V.I. Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. donated the flags and students will raise and lower the flag daily. Maj. Fernando Williams, JROTC commander from St. Croix Central High School, taught the aviation students the meaning and proper handling of the flag in a military fashion.
Williams said he hopes the activity will instill a sense of pride and patriotism in all school personnel. He also said he hopes other student organizations will get involved and take on weekly shifts.
On Mondays students will get in the spirit of patriotism for the week with a bit of music and ceremony. Three students will raise and lower the flag and the Aviation Academy students will attend the ceremony every day.
There are 20 students in the academy from St. Croix Central High School and St. Croix Educational Complex. The students are all members of the V.I. Tuskegee Airmen Youth Aviation Club.
Jordan Thomas, Youth Aviation Club secretary and Complex sophomore in the Aviation Academy, said it was a good idea to bring back patriotism.
“The flag shows what a great country America is,” Thomas said. “It’s just cloth but it represents all the blood and hardship our country went through to get where it is.” He said the students hope to see other institutions bring back the flag.
“The main focus is for students to be well rounded and involved partnering with other organizations and be a contributing part of the community,” said Cenita Heywood, a charter member of V.I. Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and Youth Aviation Club advisor.
Heywood added the purpose of YAC is to expose students to the hundreds of career opportunities in the field of aviation. She explained that it provides opportunities for students to attend flying camps and to get grant and scholarship information as well as assistance in pursuing a career in aviation.
In the Aviation Academy students focus on safety and flight theory in their freshman year. As sophomores, they concentrate on technical information and, as juniors, they will start to fly. In their senior year they will prepare to complete the FAA exams. They will get training on flight simulators at Bohlke International Airways.
Students complete nine courses targeted to aviation mechanics. Those who successfully complete the program will be eligible to take the FAA written, oral and practical exams to become certified airframe and power plant technicians.
“The kids are excited and I’m excited,” Williams said. “There are good things happening.”