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Sumter students take flight with commercial drones

The move comes as part of a new four-course drone certification program at Crestwood High School. Upon certification, they'll have access to new job and internships.

SUMTER, S.C. — On Wednesday, Crestwood High School students had their first chance to fly commercial drones.

The move comes as part of a new four-course drone certification program at the school, introduced by GEAR UP and piloted by 20 ninth graders, including Paige Felder.

“I felt like it would be a great opportunity,” Felder said. “It gives me like a range of places where I can go for career paths.”

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Much of their learning will be by the book to start and then grow to become more hands on before they’re certified to fly their junior year. Next come internships and job opportunities.

“Drones are used for real estate photography, videography… construction surveying, agriculture,” STEM U and AlNautics Co-Founder Christopher Williams said. “Whatever they chose to do, they have something else to add to their industry profile.”

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District Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox said they’ll be considering the program for other campuses as well.

“So, when we talk about preparing our children for college, military and the workforce, I think this is just the gateway to that,” Martin-Knox said. “We will see how appealing this may be and we could expand to other schools.”

Williams, whose organization created the program, said, upon becoming certified, students will get to work with their company and earn 60 hours of industry experience.

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