Sterling High School senior George Smith Jr.:
Thank you for the opportunity to be here this afternoon. I’m a senior in the aviation magnet program at Sterling High School. And, I am very happy to tell you that as of February 25th, I am a licensed pilot!
I transferred from the Aldine school district to attend Sterling High School as a sophomore because I wanted to be in the aviation program. It’s the best decision I ever made.
It’s been an incredible experience, and I’m proof that HISD offers a great education for anyone willing to take advantage of it. I placed all my pride into my new school and strived for excellence, as I was not just representing myself and my family, but I was also representing my school and my district. I have taken AP and dual-credit courses and with much hard work, I’m proud to tell you that I am the salutatorian of my graduating class.
The opportunity to study at Sterling will open many doors for me. But the opportunity also touches even closer to my heart and passion. You see, my uncle was the first African-American male to graduate from Sterling with his pilot’s license. He has been working as an air traffic controller.
And as I carry on his legacy, I’m happy to tell you that I was the first student this school year to conduct a solo flight! I have worked many, many hours for this achievement and had to pass the FAA written and oral exams, and also meet the flight requirements.
I’ve also been working as a paid intern at ConocoPhillips Corporate Aviation Services. Most importantly, I’ve tried my best to be an influential role model and leader while at Sterling, and I hope I’ve had a positive effect on my peers.
My time at Sterling is helping to build the foundation for my future. Next year, I will be attending the University of North Texas to study aviation logistics. My goal is to become a corporate pilot, and eventually, a chief pilot of a corporation, where I would be in a management position. I look forward to a future where I am doing what many of you here today are doing, which is altering the lives of many youth and preparing them for a successful future.
Of course, I could not imagine all that I have accomplished without the support of my family, my classmates, and the support of all staff at Sterling High School.
People like my aviation instructor, Mr. Smith. He has been innovative, and open to trying different ways of teaching to make sure all of his students grasp lessons and are able to apply it to real-life situations. As students, I don’t think we thank our teachers enough, so Mr. Smith, I’m here to thank you for all that you do for us every day. And I would also like to thank our principal, Mr. Mitchell.
I’d especially like to say to Dr. Grier, thank you on behalf of the students at Sterling and all the students in HISD for making sure we have a chance at getting the best education, whatever school we attend. And with that, it is now my honor to introduce the superintendent of schools, Dr. Terry Grier.