Lean toward math, science leads friends to Aviation High School

Maddie Fletcher left, and her friend Chandler Neames, both seniors at Raisbeck Aviation High School in Tukwila, bonded on their daily commute to school from Mercer Island.  - Contributed photo
Maddie Fletcher left, and her friend Chandler Neames, both seniors at Raisbeck Aviation High School in Tukwila, bonded on their daily commute to school from Mercer Island.
— image credit: Contributed photo

For Maddie Fletcher, the ideal of not having to write anymore drove her to attend Aviation High School. But the company of her friend on the bus to school kept her there.

“I was always more interested in math and science class than language and history,” Fletcher said. “I thought ‘hey, I’ll be able to focus on math and science and I won’t have to do any writing,’ which was totally false. But that was my ideal.”

Fletcher, 17, is a senior at Raisbeck Aviation High School, the aviation-themed public high school located at the Museum of Flight on East Marginal Way South in Tukwila. It focuses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The school’s website says “students consistently perform in the top five percent on state assessments.” Last year, U.S. News & World Reports recognized RAHS as the sixth-best performing school in Washington state.

“It’s fabulous,” said Fletcher’s mother, Jennifer Morsello. “It’s a great alternative for kids. It’s nice to have a choice for kids who want to go a different path.”

While a school with a STEM focus was right up Fletcher’s alley, there were tests to her commitment to attending Aviation High School. A big one was figuring out how to get to and from school from Mercer Island, which Morsello said was her daughter’s responsibility. It was here that Fletcher leaned on her friend Chandler Neames.

“I wouldn’t be [at RAHS] if Chandler wasn’t doing it with me,” Fletcher said. “Taking the city bus to school, an hour-and-a-half each way, I definitely wouldn’t have made it if Chandler wasn’t doing it with me.”

Neames, also 17 and a senior, was encouraged in middle school by a math teacher to apply to Aviation High School. It  was through Neames that Fletcher heard about the school. On their long bus rides, the two bonded.

“We were friends in elementary school and in the same girl scout troop,” said Neames. “But we weren’t close friends until we started bussing to school everyday, an hour-and-a-half one way every day.”

After getting past the issue of commuting, Fletcher said it wasn’t really a tough transition to Aviation High School. “Aviation was more my type of people, my community,” she said. “I felt like I fit in and it was good.”

Fletcher said she spends “quite a bit of time” doing homework, which was nothing new for her. “I never knew anything different, so it seems pretty normal to me,” she said.

Neames, who is a fan of project-based learning, said she has found her workload become more manageable over time.

“Freshman year, I felt like I got a lot of homework,” Neames said. “Sophomore, junior, senior year it gets better. A lot of stuff is taught and learned in class. If you take a lot of AP classes, you don’t have to do a ton of homework.”

These days, Neames drives the two of them to school, which saves them plenty of time. Even though Neames has to be at school early for her science olympiad commitments, the two still travel together. Neames is hoping to continue her STEM education when she goes to college.

“I really want to go to [engineering school] Colorado School of Mines,” Neames said. “I want to major in mechanical or biomechanical engineering. I love anything to do with machines. Working with a smaller company is something I want to do.”

While Fletcher admits she’s still figuring out what she’ll eventually do for a living, she does want to do something involving engineering. “I like that sort of thinking, being creative and finding out ‘how does this work?’”

And even though she wasn’t able to do away with writing, Fletcher has no regrets about going to Aviation High School.

“It was definitely worth it,” she said.


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