By Tess Malijenovsky
Students had a unique opportunity on Friday, September 23 to visit the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort as part of Battery Creek High School’s new aerospace magnet program. As part of their “Introduction to Aviation” class, these students received clearance to a restricted zone of the Marine Corps base for a close-up glimpse of F/A-18 fighter jets. Not only could students talk to the pilots about flying and the mechanics about maintaining the jets, but they could even put themselves to the test in the multimillion-dollar flight simulators. And, much to their excitement, the aviation technician leading the tour, Sgt. Jeffrey Grant, was also once Battery Creek high school student.
This promising aerospace program is just one of the few components of the Beaufort Board of Education’s newly approved Tri-Academy model for 2011-2012 at Battery Creak High, which also includes military science, information technology and engineering, as well as arts and humanities.
Leading the military element of the aerospace program is Col. (Ret.) Jack Snider, a veteran Marine pilot who retired as the Air Station’s commander in May. “The high school’s first-year ‘Introduction to Aviation’ course is opening the door to students interested in aircraft maintenance, aviation electrons and even pilot training,” Snider said.
Teaching the introductory course is aviation avionics mechanic Master Gunnery Sgt. (Ret.) Anthony Petrucci who previously taught college courses for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Students will learn the history of aviation, from hot-air balloons to the Wright Brothers’ first flight to the new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter that’s expected to replace the F/A-18 Hornets that local Marine pilots currently fly.
Battery Creek Principal Ed Burnes plans to expand the number of aviation-related course in the next year so that current students can pursue more advanced studies, and eventually may even earn college credits. Burnes would also like to emphasize that although the military and aviation academy is housed at Battery Creek, any student in Beaufort County can enroll.