PALMDALE — Knight High School might be the first high school in the nation to have its own composites lab.
Antelope Valley Union High School District Superintendent David Vierra and trustee Jill McGrady cut a yellow ribbon with a black line down the center on Monday to mark the lab’s official opening.
“This is just an outstanding program that we’re getting to start here, not only with the school districts but with industry as well,” Vierra said.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony included aerospace industry representatives, City of Palmdale officials, Palmdale School District administrators and Antelope Valley College representatives.
The ceremony started in Knight High’s makerspace, where students in the Digital Design and Engineering Academy build and create things.
“What you see now, I promise you, this is as clean as it ever gets because it’s always a work in progress,” Academy coordinator James Stockdale said. “They’re always building and creating things in here.”
Knight High’s new composites lab is designed to help meet workplace needs in the community.
Stockdale said they are excited about preparing students to work with composites as well as meet the demands of the local aerospace industry.
The composites-materials skills training program is what some might call the shop class of the 21st century. Composites materials are increasingly used in aircraft and other manufacturing.
“I am really proud to be in this Antelope Valley and to look at what these kids are doing and what our schools are providing for these kids,” Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said.
Hofbauer added Knight High graduates who go through the composites-materials program can hit the ground running after graduation, whether that’s in the workplace or college.
“The future is just wide-open for these kids,” Hofbauer said.
Four Knight Preparatory Academy junior high school students, including seventh-grader Lillian Lohmann, 12, got a tour of the lab to see what they will get to work with after they get to high school.
“It’s really cool; it’s real exciting,” Lillian said.
Emiliano Pureco, 12, who is also a seventh-grader, want to be an engineer some day.
“I think it’s amazing what they built. I think we could really use it. I just can’t wait to come,” Emiliano said.
Eighth-grader Myranda Ramirez, 12, agreed.
“I’m excited to be able to come here,” Myranda said.
Eighth-grader Marissa Perdomo, 13, expressed surprise and pride that Knight High got a composites lab.
“Out of all the places they could have done it, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, anywhere and they chose Palmdale, which is really cool,” Marissa said. “Not all of us ‘small-towners’ get advantages like this, so for this to be here is crazy.”
Knight High teacher Briana Gallegos, one of the first composites teachers, showed the junior high students examples of composites work from last year. Gallegos is looking forward to using the lab.
“I’m excited and nervous. … I still have a lot of learning to do as a teacher,” said Gallegos, who trained in composites.
Knight Prep Vice Principal Alex Santoyo said he hopes his students get a chance to use the lab.
“As of right now it’s going to be ninth graders but we collaborate a lot with this high school,” Santoyo said. “James Stockdale, he comes to us all the time, so I’m sure they will eventually come over here and they can see.”