Argonaut hosted its Second Annual “Sunset on the Harbor” fundraiser on September 15, at the Great Lakes Science Center, raising just over $100,000 for its mission. Guests enjoyed an open bar with specialty cocktails, and noshed on shrimp and other heavy appetizers while bidding on auction items and purchasing wine pull tickets.
The outdoor upper level deck of the Great Lakes Science Center served as the setting for 210 guests who enjoyed terrific sunset views of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the William G. Mather Steamship Museum.
The nonprofit organization began 13 years ago as PHASTAR, but re-branded in 2022 with the name Argonaut to better reflect its mission. Argonaut works in direct partnership with Davis Aerospace & Maritime (A&M) High School and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District,
creating an integrated private public collaboration to increase equity in education and exposure to aerospace and maritime careers.
Through unique, cutting-edge programming in aerospace, maritime and engineering, Argonaut guides and prepares students for individual career pathways that support financial independence and further strengthens these industries. It provides hands-on experiential learning opportunities and work experience for youth living in high-risk environments —thus creating the next generation of airline pilots, boat captains, mechanical engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Davis A&M student Yariselle Andujar remarked, “I flew a plane today. How many high school juniors can say that?” And how many female, Latina high school juniors? “From the air, I can see my high school
building and the city I grew up in,” she added. Andujar will be the first in her family to go to college.
The 2023 class of 50 students boasts a 91 percent high school graduation rate. Graduate Gabriel Leonard now attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, on a full-ride, all-expenses-covered scholarship.
“I wanted to be a pilot but I had never flown in a small plane before,” explained Leonard. “Starting my flight training through Argonaut has really prepared me for my future.”
Quinton Oliver, a 2021 graduate of its inaugural class, is now the full-time captain of the Flotsam and Jetsam boats. Students have opportunities to operate these vessels for clean-up efforts on the Cuyahoga River and the Cleveland Harbor by capturing and removing floating debris as well as installing new safety signs and life buoy rings. Students have also worked in partnership with the Cleveland Water Alliance to install smart buoys — making Lake Erie the largest digitally connected lake — an important tool for the Great Lakes that make up 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. To learn more about Argonaut, visit its website at argonaut.org. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER