DeFUNIAK SPRINGS-- For nearly five years Walton High School Principal Russell Hughes has been working closely with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to bring their program to Walton County.
The Daytona-based University will provide an instructor and classes focusing on piloting, unmanned aerial vehicles and maintenance.
"What they are learning in the classroom is going to be hands on, and connect with what we are doing academically to real life experiences and career paths for the students, that's the way our education is right now,” said Principal Russell Hughes. “Our businesses want students who are ready. Our country wants students who are ready, and our community wants students who are ready."
Walton High School officials will be providing three classes for students.
There will be two classes a day, and by the time school begins next week, they hope to have 35 students enrolled in the program.
Hughes says he believes this program will play a key role in the community.
The owner of a local aviation company agrees.
"With the aging pilot and mechanic population, we need to replace the numbers. And it would be a big asset if they were local, and they didn't have to relocate, it would be excellent,” said Carl Everitt, owner of Monarch Aviation.
For the first year, the Walton County School District will pay $3,500 for the program.
Hughes says as it begins to grow, and the students pass the final exam the school will receive funding allowing it to pay for the program.
An open house will take place at Walton High School this Thursday for anyone interested in the program.