WESTERLY — Students at Westerly High School who might want to take to the skies will soon be able to enroll in an introduction to aviation course.
It’s one of several new elective classes set to be offered next year, along with forensics, baking and pastry and the history of rock 'n' roll.
Principal Michael Hobin reviewed the course offerings for the coming school year with the Westerly School Committee at its Wednesday meeting.
The review and approval allows the high school to begin the course selection process for current ninth, 10th and 11th grade students and incoming freshmen.
Students can choose to take the courses as electives and earn one credit or a half-credit, in some cases. Whether a class proceeds will depend on how many students sign up for it, with Hobin saying the school moves forward with a “viable” course when about 12 students or more have enrolled.
The introduction to aviation course, educators told the School Committee on Wednesday, is one that has potential for growth within the career and technical program. What’s more, it was initiated by a Westerly High School student, Campbell Gladski, as part of her senior project.
Gladski spoke to the committee in August about a free four-year high school curriculum developed by the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association to introduce students to aviation. She noted the growing demand for jobs in the field.
Gladski followed through with appropriate faculty and staff at the high school, Hobin said.
“People from the Westerly State Airport came and met with us and really talked through the potential for an aviation program, but to certainly start with an aviation course,” Hobin said. A physics and physical science certified instructor in the school has expressed interest in teaching the students.
“We would like to see some of our younger students have interest in it. In the event it becomes a potential career and technical center program down the road, we would then look at offering Aviation 1, possibly Aviation 2, and credentialing and community alignment with the Westerly State Airport,” Hobin said. “It really is a wonderful opportunity for this town and we all recognize that there’s high demand and high need for pilots.”
Gladski attended the meeting and appeared thrilled with the committee’s approval of the course. Her father is a pilot and she plans to study aviation in college.
“I’ve loved aviation forever and worked with a mentor to get into the aviation business,” she said. “I just really like it a lot.”
Students with different interests will have more to choose from as well.
Forensic Science 2 would be a continuation of Forensic Science, a semester-level course with 32 students enrolled, Hobin said.
“This particular course supplements our criminal justice program, which is a relatively new career and technical center program,” Hobin said. “Our forensics students are always seeking additional work in that course.”
The new course is designed to teach the scientific concepts and techniques used in crime scene investigation.
Baking and Pastry 2 is more of a renaming of the program, Hobin said.
“It’s one of the courses like band or music or chorus that the material in the class changes from semester to semester,” he said. That leads to students with transcripts that show them taking Baking and Pastry several times, he said.
A renaming “would be a little bit more recognizable for people to see a progression in skills,” Hobin said. “It also contributes to our baking and pastry pathway endorsement, one of 25 pathway endorsements that kids can take. The required coursework for that endorsement is two sections of baking and pastry.”
The History of Rock 'n' Roll course is similar to the food elective, in that students who take several music classes tend to have “piano” or “guitar” listed several times on a transcript.
“This proposal is to have an elective for any student in the school who isn’t necessarily an instrument-inclined kid,” Hobin said. “Some students have expressed interest, and this is a course that is in other schools in Rhode Island. We would try to partner with them to have them help us develop our curriculum. We see this as an addition in our music department to keep our kids excited in a variety of music opportunities.”
One course is being deleted: Topics in 20th Century U.S. History.
“It has not been selected in several years,” Hobin said. “Every once in a while we take a course out of the program of study that has lost interest.”
Students gravitate more toward a modern topics class that covers current history, he said.