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New program at Richland High School teaches students how to fly planes and drones

Richland schools now offer aviation classes.
Richland schools now offer aviation classes.(Isabelle Hanson/KFVS12)
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 4:57 PM CDT
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ESSEX, Mo. (KFVS) - Students at one Heartland high school can now take aviation classes that will help their future careers take off.

“We always like to bring new opportunities in, but this one in particular we’re excited about,” said Cindy Rhodes, principal at Richland High School.

Richland High School is adding a program that starts this school year and prepares high school students to take the Federal Aviation Administration’s tests to become a private pilot or drone pilot. The curriculum used comes from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

“In the first year this is sort of just introductory stuff, the basics of education. As they progress as they get to year three and four, they can start to look into getting a certification on both unmanned and manned systems,” said Adam Touchette, who will teach the aviation classes.

Touchette said school leaders feel the program’s a good fit for both students and the community.

“There are crop dusting services and possibly a need for agriculture surveying fields or evening engineering and surveying using unmanned aerials, so we like providing that opportunity that can affect the students and our community in this area,” said Touchette.

“You can see the immediate benefits of expanding their family-owned business and having these kids hopefully, maybe return to our community with those skills is what really drew us to it,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes and Touchette said the program will also expand high schoolers’ horizons to see what their futures could hold.

“Perhaps they had an interest in aviation but didn’t know that they could take courses on that and learn while they’re in high school,” said Touchette.

“I feel like it’s our responsibility to try to bring in as many things as we can, to give them a little exposure, so that when they graduate, they have maybe an idea as to some type of career that they would like to pursue,” said Rhodes.

School leaders also plan to work with local universities including Southeast Missouri State University and career centers to introduce students to what could be their next step after high school.

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