Nevin Hurst, 16, talks about the flight simulator in a classroom at Graham High School Tuesday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Champaign County students learning to fly, other real-world skills

Through partnerships with Clark State Community College and Ohio Hi-Point, Graham has developed Career Gears. The model allows for students to get hands on training in different high-demand industries while in high school, with hopes that students will be interested in carving out a career when they get a high school diploma, Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said.

“The reality is when students graduate and walk out the door in high schools across the country, many of them don’t know what they are going to do,” Koennecke said. “That’s a problem that schools have to solve.”

Classes in flying, information technology and precision agriculture allow students a chance to get ahead of the curve and into growing fields, he said.

“Agriculture is the most in demand industry you can be in Ohio,” Koennecke said. “We are teaching the next generation of farmers how to use drone technology and computer technology to mesh with the science they need to learn to be effective farmers in the future.”

The Graham school board will review two policies this spring that will require elementary and middle school students to shadow a career and do community service so that they will be exposed to different jobs at a young age, Koennecke said.

The district is also looking into creating a teaching pathway next year to allow students an opportunity to learn about becoming an educator, he said.

Graham junior Nevin Hurst has taken a couple classes in aviation in high school and has learned the basics of flying.

“You learn how to fly an airplane, how to land it and how to do all the controls,” he said.

Hurst is still exploring different options for him after high school, but said aviation is something he and his friends are interested in pursing.

A major reason for their interest is the hands-on teaching style these classes offer students, Hurst said. In a Graham High School classroom, a flight simulator is set up to allow students an authentic experience of flying an airplane.

“This subject in general is pretty hard to do when you are just standing up and lecturing,” Hurst said. “It’s really something you need to get hands-on, you need to experience what you are doing. You can’t just go up there and tell somebody how to land an airplane and expect them to know how to do it.”

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