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By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — An aviation class at Boyceville High School that will be operated in conjunction with the Boyceville airport is scheduled to begin this fall with 12 students in the freshmen class.
The AOPA You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM curriculum will be offered at no cost to the school district, said Jim Harvey, a member of the Boyceville Airport Booster Club and a member of the Boyceville High School Class of 1958.
The Class of 1958 started the Boyceville Education Scholarship Trust (BEST), which is providing funding for class materials.
AOPA stands for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, while STEM is an acronym for “science, technology, engineering and math.”
BEST has a sub-fund called the “career education fund,” and the school district can pull money from the fund to cover the cost of materials for the aviation curriculum, Harvey said.
Harvey is a retired submarine commander with the United States Navy who lives in Ocala, Florida, spends his summers in Boyceville and who owns an airplane that he keeps at the Boyceville airport.
The Boyceville Airport Booster Club has purchased an FFA approved flight simulator that is located at the Boyceville airport, Harvey said.
Local pilots can use the flight simulator for their proficiency training, but the flight simulator also is available for the Boyceville High School students who are enrolled in the aviation class, he said.
The aviation class has curriculum for all four years of high school. The freshmen class will start with the first year of the curriculum this year. When the current freshmen become sophomores, they will move onto the second year of the curriculum, and the next freshmen class will start with the first year, so that after four years, the students who started as freshmen will be using the fourth-year curriculum when they are seniors, Harvey explained.
The idea for the aviation curriculum started about two years ago when Harvey took Tyler Moy, high school principal, up for a ride in Harvey’s airplane. BEST money was then used to send Moy to a symposium held in December of 2019 in Denver, Harvey said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the implementation of the program.
Boyceville is the first high school in Wisconsin to use the aviation curriculum, and there are about 200 programs nationwide, he said.
The high school aviation program will be under the direction of Andy Hamm, Boyceville High School science teacher, he noted.
In addition to teaching science, Hamm also teaches math and is the Science Olympiad advisor.
The Boyceville Airport Booster Club supports both the school curriculum and a restoration project, Harvey said.
The project involves building a 1930 “kit plane” called a Pietenpol. The kits were first manufactured in 1928 and used plywood, balsa wood and flew with a Model A engine, he said.
The full name of the airplane is the Pietenpol Air Camper and was designed by Bernard H. Pietenpol. The goal was to design an airplane that was affordable and that home builders could easily construct, according to online sources.
A company in Prescott is now manufacturing the kits for the pre-World War II model vintage airplanes, Harvey said.
The kit plane is at the Boyceville airport, and four students are currently helping to work on building the fuselage, he said.
The students who are working on the kit plane can use the hours to put toward their certification as an aircraft mechanic, Harvey said.
The school district and the airport teaming up to offer opportunities for students is good for both the school and the community, he said.
The BEST scholarship program started in 1988 at the 30-year class reunion of the Class of 1958, Harvey said.
BEST has been very successful, and part of the success has been “keeping it in front of people,” he said.
In addition to contributions from Boyceville alumni, some of the teachers at the school also have automatic deductions from their salaries every month to put into the BEST fund, Harvey said.
Two years ago, an inflatable bulldog was purchased as a mascot for BEST to use at school events and in parades. A new business and marketing class at Boyceville High School will be starting in a year or two, and promoting BEST will be one of the class projects, he said.
The class will provide education in marketing and also will be a way for students to get involved with BEST, Harvey said, adding that the bulldog will be available for the class to use.
For more information about the aviation program, the flight simulator or the Pietenpol project, you can contact Joel Timblin, manager of the Boyceville airport, at 218-393-5264.
For more information about the aviation curriculum, or if you wish to make a contribution to BEST, you can contact Boyceville High School at 715-643-4321.