Wright Flight has the right stuff

Published 4:27 am Wednesday, May 30, 2007

By Staff
The Beaufort County Board of Education should endorse the aviation course aimed at helping students soar.
Husband-and-wife team Tom and Sandy Saccio attended the school board meeting last week to offer their Wright Flight aviation-history course for the board’s consideration. The course is aimed at middle school and high school students, especially those who are considered to be “at risk” academically, according to Sandy Saccio.
They present a history of flight beginning with the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk and going all the way through the NASA program. The course is taught one hour each week for nine weeks and $100 covers all of a student’s materials and his or her opportunity to fly upon successfully completing the program.
The couple already offers the course in the Washington Boys and Girls Club, but they are hoping to make it available in public schools. They’ve been to Beaufort County Schools before and haven’t had any luck, according Tom Saccio.
But there’s no good reason not to let this program take flight.
It’s not an out-of-pocket expense. Wright Flight is completely funded by a combination of grants and private donations.
It offers children an opportunity to experience something that’s rare in this part of rural North Carolina — an opportunity to take a ride in a plane that’s in the air just for them. And though there has never been an accident since the program’s inception in the late 1980s, the children are not forced to fly. Even the ones who don’t end up airborne are bound to enjoy the course, which offers everything from a peek at Wilbur and Orville Wright to a study of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Saccios have asked for the chance to give it a whirl in one fifth-grade class in the Beaufort County school system. Just one, to see what the results might be. Fifth grade is a good time for the course to be offered, because it can encourage students to develop classroom and study habits that will serve them for many years afterward.
Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss said “some of the holdup” has been finding time in the “standardized” school day to offer the course.
Wright Flight is a standard part of the curriculum in Dare County schools. Sandy Saccio said teachers there were hesitant about it at first, but that they “soon grew to love it.” That’s probably because their students’ grades went up measurably from those in classes past.
The students are also required to sign a pledge to avoid illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco products. So what Beaufort County Schools, and more importantly, Beaufort County parents end up with is children who want to learn and want to take care of themselves and their well-being.
That can’t be anything but positive. It’s time to give this project wings.