By Anna Smith
The Dave Rozdeba South Alberta Flight Academy (DRSAFA) has even further to soar, thanks to new funding and new collegiate status.
“Alberta Education launched an initiative where they intended to create collegiates in the province of Alberta, and Collegiate School status. Official Collegiate School status is a new concept for our province and has not previously existed,” said Superintendent of Prairie Rose Public Schools, Reagan Weeks.
Earlier this year, the province announced their first collegiates, and as part of the granting process, Prairie Rose had put in a bid for DRSAFA to join these ranks.
“We put in the application, hopeful of course knowing that we can build an excellent program, but also knowing that it was unlikely because they had many applications and competition was fairly fierce to lead this funding. And so very pleased to let the board know that we were successful in this application,” said Weeks during the public board meeting.
With this status comes $560,750 of funding, which the South Alberta Flight Academy plans to use in order to expand to include a fourth year of high school training. For the grant, the school had to demonstrate a need for their specialized training, pathways into post-secondary, learning opportunities, and perhaps most vitally, a partnership like the one that DRSAFA already enjoys with Super T Aviation.
“Something that trustees might not be aware of is that Super T Aviation is officially an accredited school in the province of Alberta. So it is able to grant both the flight certification and the new offerings that we intend to launch independently,” said Weeks.
Operations are run from Eagle Butte High School in Dunmore and the Medicine Hat Airport.
“The new collegiate that we will be bringing forward will have three streams so in grade 10, students will receive approximately 15 credits as they have historically but it will include our wilderness training, where they experienced a mock plane crash that could be like in the middle of the Kananaskis,” said Weeks. “So yes, there’ll be all sorts of adventurous activities. Both with everything from learning how to start with fire, cooking over open fire, all those sorts of pieces, how to respond using First Aid. In that first year they will receive their radio license along with numerous other certificates.”
From there, students will be making choices. The three available streams will include pilot training, aircraft maintenance engineering, and air traffic control and drone certification.
“Students will also have the opportunity for a fourth year. They can complete their commercial pilot’s license and complete the training to be officially an aeronautical mechanical engineer which is incredible,” said Weeks. “It’ll take us another year to have the AME program fully established. But a commercial flight piece will take place immediately in the ’23–24 academic year.”
The division is already looking forward to these new opportunities for their students in the coming years, thanks to their new title as one of the first 12 collegiates in the province.
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