By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Victorville) On Saturday, the community came together to witness the graduation of the latest class from the Victor Valley College Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) School of Aviation. Yet, this was no ordinary graduation, as the graduates and attendees sat in the shadows of progress and perseverance for the High Desert.
Held at the Pacific Aerospace Research and Technology Hangar, the ceremony took place in the presence of massive aircrafts, including the world renowned ORBIS, the Flying Eye Hospital. The graduation class marks the first to come from the partnership between Victor Valley College, the City of Victorville, and SCLA, and boasted a total of 19 graduates. Friends, family, colleagues and the community as a whole came together to witness this celebration first hand.
“We are extremely pleased that with this graduating class, a large majority of our students are already working at the airport, pursuing their careers,” stated Arthur Gee, an Instructor at Victor Valley College. “It’s a two-fold event: during the day they are working, and in the afternoon they are going and getting their training. It is great that it comes to fruition at graduation and the students are contributing back to the community, both economically and professionally.”
The City of Victorville’s Tracy Foster spoke to High Desert Daily about the city’s standpoint on the school, as well as how it comes down to creating more local employment opportunities. “It originally started with Southern California Logistics Airport and then it has moved on to Victor Valley College because they have handled programs very effectively, so we handed that over to them. It’s the first graduating class for VVC, but from a city standpoint, and really from Southern California Logistics Airport, it’s really our way of giving back to the community and all insuring that the tenants here at SCLA have employees that are in the High Desert, that stay locally, and have good jobs here. That’s really the bottom line, and that’s what we have been trying to push the program for the past five or six years and that has been our whole purpose here.”
Curtis Green, Field Representative for First District Supervisor Lovingood, spoke to High Desert Daily moments before the ceremony began and talked about the two hats he wears when it comes to the school, “I actually wear two hats here; I’m an Instructor at VVC in the Aviation Program and I am also a Field Representative for Supervisor Lovingood. On the instructor’s side of it, these guys have sacrificed so much for two years: five hours a day, five days a week for two years, some of them still have full time jobs. On the supervisor side, this is the perfect situation. Supervisor Lovingood is excited about having training programs for people that get them employed versus just a degree. It’s a great opportunity. “
Assistant City Manager for Victorville Keith Metzler was the Master of Ceremonies for the event, where he spoke about the long road to get to today, including the closing of the military base back in 1992. “This is a very exciting day for us at the city of Victorville as well as at the Southern California Logistics Airport. Southern California Logistics Airport, as many of you know, was a former military base, and this is a work in progress for us at the city. Having closed down in 1992, it has been a project we have been working on to create and recapture jobs that were lost throughout the entire Victor Valley because of the base closure. We’re not done: here we are today as a part of that whole revitalization effort. Here you are in a hanger, that is the product of a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, a lot of risk, a lot of investment to build facilities for world-class companies that provide services for companies globally. For all of the graduates, you have an exciting time in front of you, because you are going to be part of a global industry. We are very proud of that.”
Mark Kyllingstad, Class Leader and Speaker, addressed the audience moments after he and his fellow graduates applauded everyone who has supported them for the last twenty-three months. “When we started this process two years ago in April, we were all kind of stuffed into a little classroom, looking around the room thinking, “wow, what have we gotten ourselves into?” Here we are, twenty one months later-graduates.”
After the ceremony, we caught up with graduate Hal Woodmansee on what he was feeling after walking across the stage and graduating, as well as how the journey as been, “It’s pretty cool. The way it was set up this year, it’s pretty nice. I’ve been wrenching on cars all my life, and I’ve had this love for aircraft since I was a kid, and most guys in the class are the same way. It’s going to be neat working, wrenching on the aircraft. I’ve been a carpenter for the better part of thirty years and now I’m going to be working on my dream, something that I love.”
For more information on the program, feel free to visit Victor Valley College online at www.vvc.edu.