Take flight: Students given opportunity to soar at airportPublished 9:32pm Monday, April 14, 2014
Dozens of anxious, fearless students from John Small Elementary boarded aircraft at Warren Airfield on Saturday, reveling in the feat of raising their grades by a whole letter as well as completing the classroom coursework for the Sixth Annual Wright Flight program.
According to Tom Saccio, the program provides nine weeks of coursework for teachers at John Small Elementary School to instruct students on the history of aviation, from the Wright brothers to the Space Program. The program also requires students to pass an aviation test at the end of the nine-week period, scoring an 85 or higher. In addition to the aviation coursework, students must raise a grade in a subject in which they are struggling, by seven points — a full letter grade.
“If they are getting a ‘C’, they gotta get a ‘B,’” said Saccio. “If they do all those things, we take them flying.”
Over 100 students were in attendance, anxiously waiting their turn to take to the skies and savor their achievements as well as get a hands-on experience of what they had learned in class. Volunteer pilots from all eastern North Carolina brought their personal aircraft to participate in the program and allow students and parents to board their planes. The pilots took the students and parents flying on a route around Beaufort County, circling the Pamlico River. From takeoff, planes crossed the river over Chocowinity to Blounts Creek, almost reaching PotashCorp of Aurora. From there, planes crossed back over the Pamlico River, flying over Belhaven, Bath and then over Washington before landing. Students were even given the opportunity to take control of the planes after takeoff.
“I like Wright Flight because I actually got to participate in it and at first, I didn’t know who invented the airplane until this,” said Angelo Maurizzio, a fifth-grader at John Small. “I think it’s kind of awesome because they started a plane from a bike. I wanted to participate in the flying part so I tried to do the best I can in school.”
According to Lydie Jennings, a Wright Flight volunteer, the program costs over $20,000 annually and is solely funded through donations from the community and grants.
“It is an amazing feat to have a program like this, in its sixth year, where it costs about $100 per student to fund this program,” Jennings said. “There have been contributions from the City of Washington and from private donors to make the program possible.”
Jennings said the program teaches students to set goals, become motivated and to persevere through challenges, much like the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart.
“It’s just amazing that we can do this and the impact that is has on these kids to learn about setting goals,” Jennings said.
If you would like to donate to Wright Flight of Beaufort County, mail to Tom Saccio at 4373 Maules Point Road, Blounts Creek, Nc 27814. Make checks payable to Wright Flight of Beaufort County.