Gilbert High School senior Emma Allinger will make a grand entrance when EVIT Expo 2013 kicks off Saturday at Mesa’s East Valley Institute of Technology.
The 17-year-old aviation student will land a helicopter on the EVIT campus. She’s honored to have the privilege, but admits to being just a little bit nervous.
“I just learned to land by myself,” she said, “but my instructor will be with me.”
The helicopter landing is just one of many activities that will showcase more than 35 occupational training programs during the Expo from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at EVIT’s Dr. A. Keith Crandell Campus, 1601 W. Main Street.
The free family event is expected to draw thousands of parents and students to EVIT, a career and technical high school that has been recognized nationally. It’s an opportunity for families in the 10 school districts that feed into EVIT – Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Scottsdale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, Fountain Hills, Higley and J.O. Combs – to learn about the tuition-free classes that high school students can take at EVIT to jump-start careers or college plans.
In fact, 2 out of 3 EVIT students go on to college, compared to 1 out of 3 students in traditional Arizona high schools.
Superintendent Sally Downey said that many students learn skills at EVIT that then lead to jobs to help them pay their way through college. And most often, those jobs are in the field they are in college to study.
“Once they find their passion, they’re focused,” Downey said. Whether they’re in college or high school, “they’re working in the field they love.”
Most of EVIT’s 3,000-plus students will be involved in Saturday’s Expo. For example, students in the Aesthetics program will teach Expo-goers about the art of skin care and perform facial demonstrations; students in the Nursing Assistant program will check your vitals; and students in Interior Design and Fashion Merchandising will show off their latest creations.
The event will also feature the second anniversary celebration of EVIT’s radio station, 90.7 FM The Goldmine, with live entertainment. And, Bridges Preschool, which is part of EVIT’s early childhood education program, will hold its grand opening, with family activities and costumed characters.
One of the highlights of the Expo will be the crowning of Mister and Miss EVIT – the students who raise the most money for the Mesa United Way. The event is part of EVIT’s effort to encourage students to give back to their community.
Allinger plans to go into a career that gives back every day: being a pilot who helps fight forest fires or flies medical evacuations.
She said EVIT’s aviation program, which is offered at the East Campus, 6625 S. Power Road, “has changed my life.”
“The aviation program has given me an opportunity that I would never have gotten,” Allinger said.
Al Mittelstaedt, director of aviation programs for EVIT, said the cost of a four-year aviation education can range from $120,000 to $240,000. But through its triad articulation agreement with Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Arizona State University, and the University of North Dakota, EVIT can offer an aviation program leading to a four-year flight degree for less than half the cost of the nation’s premier aviation schools.
“The bottom line is to make aviation careers affordable,” Mittelstaedt said. “My whole objective is to allow those kids to fulfill their passion for aviation.”
CeCe Todd is a public information officer for the East Valley Institute of Technology and a former journalist covering education issues in Arizona.