When G. Dalton Peck heard about this new charter school opening up with a focus on aviation, he was curious and excited.
“I decided this would be the school for me,” Dalton said.
He is an eighth grader attending the first day of Wings Aerospace Academy. The Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum created this charter school to help kids like Dalton foster their love of airplanes into a career in Colorado.
“Colorado is number one per capita in America for aerospace jobs,” Mark Hyatt, chief operations officer for Wings Over the Rockies, said. “We’re starting with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders and they’re gonna understand airplanes. They’re gonna understand rockets. They’re gonna understand engineering. They’re gonna understand coding.”
Eventually, the school will serve students from grades 6 to 12. Students like Dalton will fly real airplanes and real helicopters while learning the science and mechanics that surround aviation.
“However long I’ve been interested in aviation, I think I’ve been interested in science longer,” Dalton said.
Robert Stannard is the Director of Education for this blended learning program. Students will attend classes once-a-week at the Wings Over the Rockies museum which is filled with aircraft from different eras of flight.
“It’s in front of them all the time. So, the motivation is only a few steps away,” Stannard said.
The rest of the week students will learn online at home.
“We feel like we can meet our needs with more flexibility with an online, blended model than we would with a regular brick-and-mortar (school),” Stannard said.
Dalton says the aircraft museum is the perfect place to learn.
“You go to a school and basically, you walk around the halls and it’s just a school,” Dalton said.
Stannard believes that if the goal is to create students will pursue a career in aerospace in Colorado, then it is important to reach them before they hit high school.
“We don’t need to wait,” Stannard said. “More math, more science, more mechanical skills and it gives them an outlet.”
Dalton says it connects him with students who have the same passion as he does.
“Everyone else who shares those interests, now I can talk to,” Dalton said.
Wings Aerospace Academy currently has 47 students in grades 6 through 8. The school will add another grade every year until it is a full 6 through 12 school. Charter schools are public tuition-free programs.
“I wasn’t gonna turn this down,” Dalton said.