The Spirit of Athenian Flies Again!

Students and mentors with the Wag-Aero Sport Trainer

Thanks for your interest in the Athenian Airplane project. Our goal is to provide some history of the student-built airplane project at The Athenian School, as well as to chronicle the current progress of the students as they begin work on the latest project, a Van’s RV-12 light sport aircraft.

The project began back in 2002, when pilot, Marsh Freeman, had an idea. Born of his lifelong passion for airplanes, both building and flying them, he wanted to gather a group of young people together to build (and eventually, fly) a plane. When he approached The Athenian School, Eleanor Dase, the Head of School, was immediately interested. She felt that the project was in line with the school’s mission of providing experiential education experiences, and along with Dick Bradford, gave Marsh the school’s blessing to bring this innovative program onto the campus.

The first order of business was to build a suitable workshop for the project. Freeman took charge of the permitting and construction of a shop on the school grounds. He then presented the project to the student body and parents. He successfully inspired 85 students, an equal mix of boys and girls, including both middle school and high school students, to take on this challenge. Marsh and his family funded the purchase of the first airplane kit, a Wag-Aero Sport Trainer, and the construction process began.

Marsh was aided in the instruction process by Dr. Jim Mandley, a retired Navy pilot and award-winning aerobatic pilot and other members of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Together, these mentors began the process of teaching students how to build the plane, dubbed the Spirit of Athenian. The project was an after-school club, and students typically spent two to four hours per week in the workshop working on various parts of the plane. Two and a half years later, at the Buchanan Airfield in Concord, CA, the Spirit of Athenian went “wheels-up” to the cheers of about 100 spectators , many of them the student builders. Jim Mandley was the pilot, and the first passenger? Eleanor Dase.

In order to keep the program flying, the Spirit of Athenian was sold to fund the purchase of a second airplane kit, a Christen Eagle, an aerobatic biplane. More about that in our next post. Stay tuned!

Airplane Project Blog Tips

Hello airplane mechanics!

Here are some tips for posting to the Athenian School Blog Airplane page:

      1. Login at (Username = airplane; check with the advisers for the password)
      2. Once you login, you will see the WordPress Dashboard, which looks like this:
        A.  Click here to view the blog

        B.  Click +New to create a new blog post.  This will take you to the new post screen (see below)

        C. Check to make sure that you are logged in with the correct account.  If it says “Howdy, Airplane” you are in the right place.

        D.  If you want to create a short blog post, you can do it right from the Dashboard.  Give your post a title, type up your content, add pictures, and click Publish.

      3. Create a new post using the New Post Screen
        E. Type your post title here.

        F. Type your post here.

        G.  Editing tools.  There are advanced tools in the two rows below the highlighted section; if you know what these tools are, feel free to use them.

        H. Save your draft.  Do this after you title your post.  This way your draft is saved if your browser crashes.

        I.  Click Preview to see what your blog post will look like when it is published.

        J.  You can choose what type of format you would like your post to be.  Most posts will be Standard, the default option.

        K.  Enter tags here.  Tags can be a useful tool to organize posts and find information quickly and easily.

        L.  To add photos or documents to your post, click Upload/Insert.  Follow the prompts on the pop-up screen to add your media.

        M.  When your post is finished, you’re ready to publish. (Don’t forget to edit first.)  Click Publish to publish your post.  You can then view your post on the blog.

The Many Talents of Lizette Dolan

Lizette Dolan, Dean of Equity and Inclusion, must have a body double. Between raising two young children, teaching an upper division humanities seminar, overseeing the Equity and Inclusion program at Athenian, choreographing original dances, and pursuing a PhD in education at St. Mary’s College of California, she cannot possibly have time to do anything else. Yet, Lizette also manages to share her knowledge of and passion for diversity work far beyond the Athenian community. To highlight a few recent community activities, this past summer, Lizette helped coordinate and sat on a panel at St. Mary’s Summer Leadership Institute. A few weeks ago, she moderated a panel at the East Bay School for Boys addressing the question: How is supporting boys a feminist act? She is actively involved in People of Color in Independent Schools (POCIS) as an adviser. Though Lizette is dancing less these days, she most recently married her passions for an original performance piece at the national White Privilege Conference. And this Saturday, she will present at a national education conference. The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) hosts an annual conference for boarding school heads, faculty, and administrators; Lizette will be giving a talk called “Cultivating an Equitable and Inclusive School Climate.” In recognition of her academic prowess, professional aspirations, and demonstrated leadership, St. Mary’s Kalmanovitz School of Education awarded Lizette a scholarship this past summer. While Lizette insists that she does not, in fact, have a body double, those of us privy to her busy life will continue to look for the Lizette look-alike that helps her accomplish all that she does.

TABS Conference: Cultivating an Equitable and Inclusive School Climate
Saturday December 1, 2012 • 11:30 AM- 12:30 PM
Practical techniques for learning and growing environments that acknowledge, respect, and celebrate the identities of all its community members. We will examine institutional policies and practices that can foster the emotional and psychological health of historically under-represented students and adults. Through interactive exploration of our school’s structures, we will leave with strategies designed to support and empower all communities members. Participants will work in small groups and individually and share best practices within our schools to foster healthy souls.

TABS Webinar: From Institutional Colorblindness to Cultural Competence
February 2013 • Topic Focus: International Students

St. Mary’s College of California Summer Leadership Institute
Watch Lizette’s panel discussion at the Institute below.

Learn more about Athenian’s commitment to equity and inclusion.