Ada City Schools’ new aviation program got a $15,000 boost from the state earlier this month.
The school district recently received a $15,000 grant from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, a state agency that promotes aviation in Oklahoma. The agency awarded Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants or contracts totaling more than $270,000 to 25 organizations across the state, including Ada City Schools.
The grants will be used to educate Oklahoma students about careers in science, technology, engineering and math, particularly in jobs related to aerospace and aviation, the commission said in a news release.
Ada will use its one-year grant to help fund “The Sky is Not the Limit,” a program designed to introduce students to the aviation industry and prepare them for career opportunities in the field. The grant will help cover various costs associated with the program, including professional development opportunities for teachers, supplies for the new Introduction to Aviation class and materials to educate students about the history of aviation in Oklahoma.
“It will be partly for college awareness visits to colleges that have departments of aviation, like Southeastern and the University of Oklahoma,” said Paula Kedy, executive director of academics and instruction for the district. “So it will be targeted. Not just go visit a campus, but go to the aviation department to see.”
The district originally requested $25,372 in grant funds, but the Aeronautics Commission’s staff recommended a grant of $15,000.
Agency staffers recommended the lower amount because they wanted to fund as many programs as possible, said Ada Superintendent Mike Anderson.
“They were trying to reach as many kids as they could with the limited funds that they had,” he said.
The district launched its aviation program last spring with an assembly for high school students, followed by tours of Ada Regional Airport. Those events, as well as an essay contest and a trip to Tinker Air Force Base, were designed to pique interest in the program.
The district moved into the next phase of the program this fall, which it began offering the Introduction to Aviation class. The class is open only to high school freshmen this year because the district is field testing the course, but it will be available to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the future.
“Within four years, we’ll have a full vertical high school alignment of coursework,” Kedy said.
District officials plan to expand the program in later years so it will be available to virtually all students.
Anderson said district officials started thinking about creating the program when they realized that aviation offers a variety of career possibilities for students. He said the district’s community partners helped make the program possible.
“We could not do it without our community’s help,” he said.