There were many happy landings this past Saturday at the Naples Municipal Airport as thousands arrived to see airplanes, classic cars and military memorabilia at the inaugural Fly-in/Cruise-In show to benefit student learning at Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology and Lorenzo Walker Technical High School.
“This event is a tremendous success and has gone beyond our expectations. I especially want to thank Dr. Kamela Patton and our Communications Department for their cooperation, too,” said Jack Gardner, principal at LWIT/LWTHS, referring to the Collier County School District and its superintendent. “I’ve just arrived here from Indiana in July, and this is a fundraiser we did there, where we made $100,000. We hope to make a lot of money for our school as well, here today.”
LWIT students and staff volunteered their time to park cars, sell T-shirts and serve up hot dogs, bacon and syrupy pancakes to Fly-in visitors. Community members noshed while eyeing various models of cars and planes lined up alongside the tarmac. Inside the airport terminal, World War II memorabilia was on display for everyone to get a close-up look at dedicated service members’ helmets, tanks and medals.
“It’s fabulous! We loved the cars, the planes, and their pancakes are to die for,” said Sue Mochnal of Marco Island of the show. “I learned about it from NCH on Marco, where I volunteer, and we came to see a Corvette today from a friend on Marco Island.”
Sandra Guerriero, a high school student at LWIT, echoed Mochnal’s words. “It was pretty incredible to see the many different cars people brought today.”
For Kimberly Brizard, another LWIT high school student, she credited her world history teacher who encouraged her to volunteer.
“Mr. Waller, our world history teacher, is awesome. He helps us out so much. I’m going into LPN and childcare, and I want to work with children when I graduate,” Brizard said as she served up a delicious brunch with fellow students.
The donations provided by event goers benefit every aspect of educational opportunities offered at the school through LWIT’s Foundation. The mission of the nonprofit Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology is to raise funds for tuition scholarships and education awards for students in need of financial assistance.
“Without the students and sponsor support, it would not have been such a success,” said George Harvey, vice principal of LWHS, summing up the day’s activities.
It was a friendly competition among car and plane enthusiasts, too. Top ranked cars and planes received trophies from Gardner after an independent panel of judges selected top winners.
Representatives from the Civil Air Patrol were also on hand to provide tours of their aircraft to local families. Flight instructors and private pilots were available to provide tours of cockpits and answer questions from community members.
The Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology was founded by James Lorenzo Walker more than 40 years ago in Collier County, and provides technical and education training in areas such as medical administration, nursing, accounting, automotive technology, dental assisting and early childhood education, to name a few of the many programs offered.
Five and a half years ago, Lorenzo Walker High School opened its doors to high school students in Collier County, and provides practical vocational and technical education, complemented by traditional academic tracks, according to standards set by the state of Florida. Students of LWHS graduate with a high school diploma and workforce skills equivalent to two years of a college education.
To learn more about the Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology Foundation go to www.collierschools.com/lwit/foundation.htm.