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Elementary Students Aim for the Skies and MCCC’s Aviation Program


HAMILTON – Aspiring aviators at William A. Robinson Elementary School in Hamilton scraped the clouds with a barrage of homemade model rockets June 19 during “Rocketday,” with the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Aviation program as a special honoree.

“The Mercer County Community College Aviation program is the premier program in New Jersey for students who want to become pilots,” said Jerry Iacona, Rocketday coordinator. “Hopefully this will help promote the program at MCCC.”

Iacona, a retired elementary school teacher, started the Rocketday tradition in 1974 and grew the event into an entire curriculum that includes science, technology, and math. He continues to coordinate the annual event, and serves as president of the New Jersey Aviation Education Council and is a member of the MCCC Aviation Program Advisory Committee.

Rocketday Launch
Jerry Iacona, "Rocketday" coordinator at William A. Robinson School in Hamilton, and MCCC Aviation Program Coordinator Joan Jones fire off the first model rocket. The Aviation program was a special honoree for this year's event.

The fourth-grade students participating in Rocketday worked in teams with specific assignments, including mission control, recovery, and determining the altitude each rocket attained. Iacona said one of the biggest benefits of Rocketday is that students learn to work together to achieve a common goal.

William A. Robinson School presented a special recognition award to Mercer Aviation Coordinator Joan Jones, with Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede presenting a proclamation and Mercer County Freeholder Pasquale “Pat” Colavita presenting a Certificate of Honor.

Jones noted that Mercer is one of only two community colleges in the nation to have earned accreditation by the Aviation Accreditation Board International of the University Aviation Association. The program has been training successful commercial pilots and instructors for years, she said.

“Our students have gone on to every major airline in the U.S., and many major corporations,” Jones said. “Many of them will tell you that without Mercer, they could not have achieved their dreams.”

Colavita added that while Mercer’s Aviation program is unique and offers an opportunity unavailable anywhere else in New Jersey, it is also a great value for anyone pursing a college education in other areas.

“Mercer County Community College is the jewel of Mercer County,” Colavita told the hundreds of elementary students and their parents attending Rocketday. “You kids could get a great education at Mercer County.”


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