Hollister School District's aviation education programs rank No. 1 in the nation

A unique education program at Hollister Schools is reaching new heights and being recognized nationally.

Through the district's aerospace program, students get to explore aviation careers of all kinds by making rockets, flying drones, and piloting a flight simulator.

Many of the students, like Senior Erin Sutter, are setting their sights on futures in the sky.

"I plan to become an airline pilot," Sutter said.

She says the hands-on experience she gets through the school's aviation education programs has given her a head start.

"This simulator itself is really helpful because it actually shows you the functions and instruments that play a role in flying a plane," Sutter said.

The special aviation unit is a part of Hollister School's Tiger Academy.

"Giving them an opportunity to see what's out there in a variety of careers," Tiger Academy Program Director Mark Cowsert said.

However, the school also has specific clubs to highlight aviation and drones. They are careers that kids can see are really taking off.

"Seems like it is never going to stop evolving. It's just going to go and go and go and go," Student Levi Berkland said.

The school partners with community entities including the Branson Airport and the Civil Air Patrol to bring first-hand training to the students.

"The reason I'm here is to give back to these kids some of my experiences," Former Airline Pilot Chuck Stone said.

It is through the Civil Air Patrol that the school's efforts have recently ranked number one nationwide.

"Best aerospace education after school program in the whole nation," Stone said.

However, program leaders say the real reward is giving students brighter futures.

"We are giving our students and chance to get a foundation and maybe a leg up in that industry, should they chose to pursue that career," Cowsert said.

Through the Tiger Academy program, students get to explore a variety of careers, not just aviation.