ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The aerospace industry plays a big role in Rockford, but many of the businesses are always searching for homegrown talent. Now, a new program is making its rounds through local high schools.
Jefferson junior Braxton Washington has always wanted to fly a plane and now he’s getting a chance to test things out from the ground, with a flight simulator in his classroom.
It’s all part of Jefferson high school’s partnership with Embry Riddle Aeronautical University where the program gives students the opportunity to learn at an early stage.
“When I was little, my dad bought me a model airplane and that’s where it started. We sued to go down to the airport and watch UPS take off at about 10 o’clock at night so that’s where the basis is and this just helps push it further,” says Washington.
At Guilford, junior Sammy Jamahneh has similar ambitions, however there’s not an academy program set in place, at least not yet. Rockford Public Schools is getting ready to expand its partnership with Embry Riddle to extend the classes to Guilford this fall.
“Schools sometimes don’t talk about careers and stuff that would be great for us. You just talk about English and all of that, but now since they brought this here, it’s something that I’m very interested in so it’s like a whole new thing for me."
Jefferson Aviation Academy Director Mike Polen says the class is a quick way to prepare students for a career in the aerospace industry.
“Some of these kids are going to come through this program, have a better idea of what they want to be say a pilot or a mechanic or an air traffic controller and will be better prepared going into college.
It’ll help them shape their college choices, it’ll help them shape their curriculum choices between now and then and they’ll be way ahead of the game.”
The school district hopes to have the contracts drawn up and ready to be passed by the school board during its June meeting. Students enrolled in these classes also earn college credit.