Students at James Blair Middle School will have a unique opportunity to explore drone technology while gaining in-demand skills through The Genesis Drone Academy program, beginning in the Fall of 2019.

The Genesis Drone Academy program is designed by William Capers, In School Suspension Aide at James Blair Middle School; Archie Jefferson, Student Advancement Coach at Lafayette High School; and Eric Stone, a retired Williamsburg Firefighter.

“Drones have a unique ability to gain and hold students’ attention,” explains Mr. Capers. “Almost every student wants to pilot a drone and even if they are not controlling it, their attention is on it while it is in the air. Our program will encourage this fascination and channel it into academic and extracurricular activities to provide an extraordinary learning experience for our students.”

Eight students attended an information session on May 30 and are eager to participate in the program next school year.

The program includes an academic curriculum that facilitates the early learning process of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to help them understand drone technology as a tool and future career option. WJCC Schools’ Career Technology Education and Science teachers will incorporate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in their curriculum to expand student understanding of how drones relate to science, physics, robotics and, in particular, aeronautics.

The Genesis Drone Academy also includes an after-school program with the sole objective of preparing students to take and pass the FAA Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test, which a student can take their junior year of high school.

The Genesis Drone Academy will provide participating students with a high-demand skill set and the opportunity to enter the workforce fully equipped to operate as an FAA Certified Drone Pilot. Students who successfully complete the program will have the ability to become an entrepreneur at a young age or enter the workforce with a highly marketable skillset in a rapidly growing industry.

On the day of the event, the students received a UAV Drone demonstration by Deputy Chief Chris Sadler and the York County Fire Life and Safety (ROVER Team). The York County Fire Department (ROVER Team) are early adopters of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program and are highly sort after throughout the country, and have conducted countless drone mission.