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Dieruff Students Receive $1,800 Donation from LNAA

June 9th, 2016 |

Project Take-off focuses on a future in aviation services

Allentown, PA – Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority’s Executive Director Charles Everett remembers being introduced to the world of aviation.

“When I was 12 years old, my mother took me to Philadelphia International Airport for the first time and I can still see myself sitting in the airport with my eyes wide open.”  From that point forward, nobody had to sell him on his career path.

Finishing its third year, Project Take-Off is providing the same eye-opening experience for Dieruff High School students.

“The goal of this program is to mentor inner city / urban students by exposing them to a career in the aviation industry,” said Everett. As the fourth largest airport in the Commonwealth, Lehigh Valley International Airport provided service for 673,000 passengers in 2015 – a ten percent (10%) increase over 2014. Future travelers, pilots and airport personnel are inside our schools.

To recognize this year’s senior students participating in the program, the Airport Authority donated $1,800 from their high school scholarship fund. The money was used to help students prepare for events with considerable cost over the next two months: Prom, Yearbooks, senior dues (cap, gown & diploma) and college books.

“The Authority wanted to ensure that students within our program celebrate these “once in a lifetime” high school experiences and take the next step in reaching their educational goals by deferring some of the expenses,” said Sylvette Rivera, Dieruff Alum and Project Take-Off advisor for LNAA.

The most popular areas of interest include the Airport Authority Police and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) because of the hands-on activities.  “Students are able to get certified in CPR and First Aid which give them the invaluable skill of helping to save someone,” said Jeanne Grieger, Dieruff High School Advisor.

There are other vital roles within an airport that can get overlooked but are imperative for daily operations. Introducing those alternatives might spark job interests for these students.

“It’s very convenient to have this facility and opportunity right in our own backyard which leads to easy travel for each session,” said Susan Bocian, Dieruff High School principal.

Described as a career “one-stop” shopping place, Bocian is impressed by the interaction between the students and professionals at the LNAA.

“I want them to understand the importance of every position at LVIA including the Executive Staff, Accounting, Business / Economic Development, Operations & Safety, IT services, Planning & Programming, Marketing and Maintenance,” said Bocian.

In the past, students were given management roles to participate in a case study which included formulating an operating budget for LVIA, with a $5 million shortfall for extra expenses. The group presented their finished product at the Board of Governors meeting in May 2015.

“We wanted to challenge the students and create a real-life lesson in terms of learning the importance of budgeting money and balancing priorities,” said Everett.

Dieruff students conclude each yearly session by taking part in a “mock” aircraft emergency drill. The exercise involves putting out fires, rescuing passengers from a smoke-filled aircraft and facing the media.

“Besides learning, these kids are here to soak up the principles in workplace behavior, the power of a positive professional attitude and receive advice about achieving success,” said Grieger.

LNAA hopes to invite more schools to join this program in the future.


Lehigh Valley International Airport is conveniently located near Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pennsylvania. Allegiant Air, American, Delta and United have 10 nonstop destinations to both leisure destinations and major airline hubs with connections to the world. LVIA’s nonstop destinations include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Myrtle Beach (seasonal), Newark, Orlando, Punta Gorda and Tampa Bay. For more information on LNAA, visit or


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