Op-ed: Core Plus Aerospace Opened Doors for Me and Can Open Doors for Students in Pierce County


Note: This op-ed was originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune.

I’m a gymnast. I’m in Key Club. I’m a coach. I would describe myself as a hands-on learner. I have a lot of interests.

At Franklin Pierce High School I was looking for a class that could help me explore my interests through hands-on learning and benefit my future. I found Core Plus Aerospace.

Core Plus Aerospace is a manufacturing curriculum that teaches students real-world skills while in high school. The two-year curriculum, developed in partnership with Boeing, gives students more options after graduation, opening the door to high-demand manufacturing jobs, apprenticeships, and college programs.

In my Core Plus Aerospace class I can come up with an idea and build that idea into a tangible product. Since I make the product myself, I’m able to see the positives and negatives and learn from the process. Core Plus Aerospace is easily my favorite class and something I look forward to each day. Along with manufacturing skills, I’ve been developing leadership skills by teaching others the right way to do things. I’m also learning to pay attention to details, which has been helpful in gymnastics because it reminds me to remember how each skill is connected and how they build on each other. I know these skills are going to put me ahead after graduation.

Core Plus Aerospace is starting to become popular with a wide variety of students. I used to be the only female in my class, but now that number has quadrupled. I hope more females take Core Plus Aerospace because it helps bring more ideas to the class and eventually the workforce. Having different points of view in the classroom helps increase the quality of work.

Core Plus Aerospace is also becoming more popular because it provides students the opportunity to earn credit equivalency in CTE or math. I’ve used it as both on my way to getting the credits I need to graduate and start my path after high school. The class also provides students like me the opportunity to earn dual credit. Students can complete a CTE course like Core Plus Aerospace and get college credit while still in high school.


Another great aspect of Core Plus Aerospace is the opportunity to apply for a paid summer internship with Boeing. My teacher, Jeff Kurbis, encouraged me to apply, and I am so glad he did! The Boeing internship was one of the best experiences I’ve had in school. I was able to further develop my manufacturing skills and learn from actual Boeing employees. It was enlightening to hear the different paths people took to work at Boeing. I’m so grateful that my school is supportive of Core Plus Aerospace and the Boeing internship. I hope these programs expand to more schools so more students can benefit from the experiences that I have.

Following graduation, I will apply to work for Boeing. If I’m fortunate to start my career there, I plan on taking advantage of Boeing’s Learning Together Program. Boeing will pay for tuition and any related expenses—including application fees, entrance exams, books, and graduate fees—for employees enrolled in accredited colleges, universities or trade schools.

I’m lucky that I signed up for Core Plus Aerospace; it allowed me to grow in a field and career path that I have a passion for.

I encourage other students to take steps like enrolling in Core Plus Aerospace and applying for the Boeing internship. These opportunities will open doors after graduation. Opportunities like these put you in a position to explore their options, to meet people who will help you grow as a person, find your strengths, and get you to where you want to go after graduation.

Katherine Verkuyl is a senior at Franklin Pierce High School