Wahoo school dedicates FFA learning center to former student killed in crash

His life and career were cut short after a car crash in May of 2021.
A metro-area high school is honoring a former student who tragically lost his life in a car accident.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, is honoring a former student who tragically lost his life in 2021.

Landen Montanio graduated from the school in 2020. During his time there, he developed a passion for welding thanks to the newly-developed FFA program, which included welding courses.

Montanio also learned to weld at his father’s shop.

“Landen was extremely caring and passionate, especially when it came to metals, fabrication, and welding, and it was one area where he loved to be, so to be in the welding shop was his favorite place during the year,” says Katie Donahue, who taught Montanio during her time as the FFA instructor at Bishop Neumann. Donahue developed the school’s program and helped it grow for five years before moving to Raymond Central.

But Montanio’s life and career were cut short after a car crash in May of 2021.

After his death, Montanio’s mom, Elizabeth Pavlik, wanted to find a way to honor her son and his passions.

Since January of 2022, Pavlik has been working with several partners, as well as Bishop Neumann High School, to further enhance the school’s FFA program. She spearheaded the revitalization of the FFA learning center, where the welding classes are held, and was able to name the space after him.

“We brought six new welding stations with new welders, new tables, new helmets, and a new ventilation system to the learning center,” Pavlik says.

Previously, the classroom only had three welding stations, and they weren’t permanent. Now, they are.

“Major improvement,” Donahue says. “More students will be able to work alongside each other and with each other.”

This was Donahue’s first time returning to the space in two years. She says it truly reflects Montanio’s spirit.

“It’s really amazing to see all the hard work that’s gone into it, just to honor his legacy. It’s fantastic.”

She also says students are lucky to be able to work in such a space.

“Welding is a high demand area, not only in Nebraska but across the country, so its definitely a trade that is needed, within the United States and AG industry, and it’s fantastic that students at Neumann are now going to be able to learn these skills at an industry-grade facility,” she says.

“This is one of the legacies Landen is leaving behind because it’s a passion he had, and it’s to help current students today and future students to build and find out their skills and go forward, and those are the footsteps Landen would want the students to go forward with,” says Pavlik.

Pavlik says none of this would be possible without Landen, support from the community, family, friends, Bishop Neumann, and her faith.

“Without God, this wouldn’t have been possible and God has many ways through tragedy to turn it into blessings.”