Magruder High School Takes New Flight with Aviation Program

A new program implemented at Magruder High School allows students to get a head start on careers in aviation.

Out of the more than 70 schools selected to implement the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Aviation STEM curriculum in the 2018-2019 school year, Magruder is the only school in the school district that will offer this program to students next year.

With a growing demand for workers in the aviation field, AOPA is collaborating with schools across the country to help fill the employment gap by preparing ninth grade students.  The four-year aviation STEM program will develop participants’ skills in three career pathways: pilot; unmanned aircraft systems, otherwise known as drones; and aerospace engineering.

Once complete, students in the pilot pathway will have completed ground school towards obtaining a pilot certificate, according to Cindy Hasselbring, senior director for AOPA’s High School Aviation Initiative. For the drones pathway, students will prepare to take the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 test that will prepare students to become a commercial drone pilot in high school.   The aerospace engineering option prepares students to take a 3D modelling software assessment that is valued by industry leaders.

“With an unprecedented demand for careers in aviation, we are thrilled that so many high schools are utilizing our STEM curriculum to inspire students and give them the skills to pursue future careers in aerospace,” said Mark Baker, president and CEO of AOPA. “Planting the seeds for the future workforce of our industry is part of AOPA’s mission to keep aviation vibrant. We are grateful to the AOPA Foundation donors who make such programs possible.”

The curriculum will be provided to participating schools at no cost due to donations made to the AOPA Foundation, however, schools are responsible to pay for materials and teacher professional development out of their own funding sources, according to Hasselbring.

Three schools were chosen overall in Maryland and includes DuVal High School in Lanham, and Grace Brethren Christian School in Clinton.

22 percent of students in the Aviation Curriculum are female and 45 percent of students are in underrepresented groups.

For more information about this program, click here.

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Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at and on Twitter @mittimegan.


3 Responses to “Magruder High School Takes New Flight with Aviation Program”

  1. Avatar
    On May 16, 2018 at 4:27 pm responded with... #

    Rockville HS did something similar to this in the late 1970s and early 1980s when my dad taught there. Woody Vashaw, one of the science teachers, had installed a restored WWII “Link Trainer” flight simulator in a back room and made an elective course out of it.

    • Avatar
      On May 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm responded with... #

      I was in Woody Vashaw’s Aviation Science class. You earned an A if you passed the FAA written – I missed it by 6 points! I remember the Link Trainer and remember your dad very well. My dad was the sales guy at Olney Mill. Woody qualifies as my all time favorite teacher. I wasn’t much of a student but we were good friends. I remember towing his Cessna 150 home – I was driving his VW bus with the wings fastened to the roof and the tow bar fixed to the bumper. Woody was in the airplane monitoring the brakes. We made a make-shift garage with clear plastic sheets where we stripped all the paint and prepped for the “Alumagrip” paint. He painted it to look like a Cessna 150 Aerobat. Today I fly when I can and am active in the Civil Air Patrol. Tell your dad hello for me.

      • Avatar
        On July 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm responded with... #

        I took Woody Vashaw’s Aviation Science in 1971 and 1972, and passed my Private Pilots exam 1971. He was my favorite and most memorable teacher. That Aerobat paint design was pretty cool and logged quite a few hours in it (still have its key to this day). Never knew had it got that design … now I know!! ? I currently fly from Frederick Airport.

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