CCS summer program introduces middle schoolers to aviation

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Some Columbus City School students are learning the sky’s the limit during a unique summer school opportunity.

Middle school students are taking part in a 6-week Aviation Camp at Africentric Early College on the east side of the district. It’s part of the CCS Summer Experience program, created to make up for learning loss and a lack of socialization during a challenging year of remote learning.

“It’s hard for me to pay attention a lot of the time and I lose focus really easily, so that was really difficult,” explained Ayanna Barker, who just finished out her 8th grade year.

Outgoing 8th grader Aaron Vezdos added, “I wasn’t doing as well in school with remote learning, as to the previous year with in-person learning.”

The district created dozens of summer classes for the Summer Experience, with an emphasis on hands-on learning and peer cooperation that wasn’t possible during the previous school year. The ability to build, create and spend time with friends in person is what attracted some families to the Aviation Camp.

“It was hands-on and you get to work with other people,” explained Gabriel Ogbara, who will begin 8th grade this fall.

Other students leaped at the opportunity to delve into a high-level subject matter. Vesdos and soon to be 7th grader Felton Smith both want to pursue careers in aviation.

Felton Smith, 7th grade, prepares to release his paper airplane for flight.

“I might become a fighter pilot or a cargo plane pilot,” Smith said, adding he hopes to join the U.S. Air Force.

Vezdos said, “I would like to get into aerospace engineering.”

Thursday, the students were testing out model airplanes, paper versions and basic helicopter designs outside of the classroom.

“It introduces them to design thinking, critical thinking and it helps them solve real-world problems,” said Wendy Gittens, a Summer Experience administrator for middle school students at Africentric Early College.

Gittens also explained in addition to meeting academic standards, the brief summer program could introduce students to career opportunities they never considered previously.

“I wasn’t really interested in it [at first], but it is interesting,” Barker said.

Ogbara added, “If I kept going on this path and kept learning about aviation, I could become a pilot or something that would help me later in life.”

“We want them to see the possibilities and how they can make connections with them at this age,” Gittens said.

In the fall, CCS will also begin offering aviation training to high school students. The partnership with the Ohio State University will introduce students to pilot, mechanic and administration skills and provide the opportunity to earn college credit.

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