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16 Burke High School Students Receive ‘Wings’ for Completing STEM Flight Program

BOSTON -- Friday, May 26, 2023 -- The inaugural class of 16 graduates of Boston Public Schools' first STEM Flight Program received their "wings" Thursday, May 25, 2026 at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester during a pinning ceremony. The program, directed by Marcus James, provided these Burke High School students with a comprehensive, eight-month curriculum that delved into various aspects of the aviation industry.
Under the guidance of James and Jennifer Lillis, the Burke High School Career Pathways Coordinator, the students further expanded their knowledge by visiting airports and flight schools, engaging directly with industry professionals. These invaluable experiences allowed the students to gain insight into the aviation field and explore potential career paths.
"The STEM Flight program at Burke High School represents our dedication to providing innovative educational opportunities that prepare our students for the future," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. "By providing students with academic guidance, we are enabling them to pursue dynamic college experiences and careers. We will continue to build out opportunities to further this work and support students as they learn which career skills they are most interested and fascinated by. We commend these students and staff for their hard work and congratulate them on their well-deserved graduation."
Beginning with an introduction to flight, the students progressed through the fundamentals of Airframe & Powerplant (A&P), aerodynamics, and navigation. The program also included practical hands-on experience in flight labs, where students had the opportunity to use the Cessna 172 Skyhawk flight simulator.
Massachusetts Representatives Brandy Fluker Oakley (12th-Suffolk) and Christopher Worrell (5th-Suffolk) attended the celebration and presented students with citations of congratulations from the Commonwealth's House of Representatives.
"It was such an honor and a pleasure to be able to recognize this first class of Aviation Program graduates at Jeremiah E. Burke High School," said Representative Fluker Oakley (12th-Suffolk). "By learning the advanced STEM skills required for flight navigation, these students prepare themselves for the well-paid and high-demand career opportunities that are available in the aviation industry. These incredible students, and the educators supporting them, are breaking barriers with this innovative career-education model. Their success demonstrates that BPS and our community leaders, like Marcus James and Dr. Jennifer Lilllis, are making the right investments for our children’s future. I’m so proud of our students."
The inaugural class of STEM Flight Program graduates includes 15 seniors and one junior: 
  • Edmira Alves, senior
  • Tyler Carvalho, senior
  • Leanne De Pina, senior
  • Diamond Deas, senior
  • Amaya Gomes, senior
  • Marcelo Goncalves Cardoso Moreno, junior
  • Barbara Grajales Polanco, senior
  • Nayeliz Grajales Polanco, senior
  • Ramalquiz Guzman, senior
  • Joshua Jean Charles, senior
  • Jacob Kabongo, senior
  • Jeremy Liriano Diaz, senior
  • Jeremiah Montrond, senior
  • Jamari Phillips, senior
  • Joshua Rodriguez, senior
  • Zahkia Warren, senior
"This is a special time of year where we get to celebrate our students and their accomplishments," said Representative Worrell (5th-Suffolk). "Setting up our students for success is a priority of mine and seeing these 16 young people not only graduate from high school but pursue their passion for aviation prior to college is unique and demonstrates the enthusiasm of our newest generation entering the workforce."
Burke High School Head of School Amilcar Silva and James celebrated the achievements of these students and praised their dedication to, and successful completion of, the program. 
Our students have made history by completing the first STEM Flight program in Boston Public Schools," said Burke High School Head of School Silva. "We are incredibly proud of their dedication and the knowledge they have gained throughout this program. We believe this experience will open doors to exciting opportunities for their future endeavors."
The STEM Flight Program at Burke High School is a great example of a college pathways program that is preparing students for a career in aviation. The program provides students with the academic and career guidance they need to succeed, and it also helps them save money on college tuition. 
"The STEM Flight program has allowed these students to explore their passion for aviation and gain hands-on experience in the field," said STEM Flight Labs Director James. "We have seen their skills and confidence soar as they developed a deep understanding of the industry. This pinning ceremony is a testament to their hard work and dedication, and we are honored to celebrate this milestone with them."