AOPA Launches High School Aviation Initiative

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AOPA has launched a new program, the High School Aviation Initiative, to encourage students to enter aviation careers. As part of this effort, the newly formed Aviation Education Leadership Alliance will hold its first gathering Nov. 9 in Lakeland, Florida, home of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. The organization invites new members to join and discuss how aerospace education can boost student achievement, see how educators use aviation to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and learn about starting aviation studies in schools. The alliance will meet annually at different high schools around the country, offering teachers, principals, guidance counselors and others the opportunity to learn from one another, according to AOPA.

The initiative also will form a network of Career Clubs to help students learn about aviation and aerospace careers. Once established, there will be a leadership board made up of high school students elected by club chapters. The clubs will be integrated with two existing programs, AOPA AV8RS and PATH to Aviation (Pilots and Teachers Handbook). “One of the benefits of the Career Clubs is that the teens will be enrolled in AOPA AV8RS, thus receiving free membership in AOPA,” spokeswoman Katie Pribyl told AVweb via email. “We also will be updating the PATH curriculum and elevating it to a secondary school track.” Future plans are in the works under what AOPA calls the Booster Program, which will include flight training scholarships, tuition support, startup grants for school programs, and workshops for teachers who want to integrate aviation into their classrooms. In 2016, the association will start 20 flight training scholarships for teens. “Our intent is to build an endowment to grow the Booster Program to include grants to schools to start up or sustain aviation education,” Pribyl said.

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