BY JUDY SHERIDAN
Bell Helicopter went big announcing the company’s new partnership with Aledo ISD last Tuesday morning, noisily maneuvering a helicopter onto the football practice field as a throng of excited students and faculty stood by.
All eyes were fixed on the flat gray sky as the helicopter appeared on the horizon and hovered to a landing, rotors spinning and dust flying. Among those getting out were Superintendent Dr. Derek Citty and Franklin “Tom” Knight, Bell’s technical training manager, who shook hands.
The collaboration between the globally-recognized aerospace company and Aledo ISD — as well as with Dunbar, Eagle Mountain — Saginaw ISD and several others, according to Knight — is an effort to groom tomorrow’s work force.
“Bell is reaching out because we know you will be our future,” he told students who later surrounded him, peppering him with questions. “We don’t want to go to the east and west coasts to get laborers.”
Knight said the company would like to interject manufacturing skills into the secondary school curriculum, as well as build apprenticeship programs with Weatherford College and others.
That type of training, he said, will allow a student to “go get a job at any of our aviation facilities.”
The new coursework will target advanced math with practical applications, Knight told students, leading to a choice of three different tracks in the student’s junior year — engineering, advanced composites or CNC machining.
He did not name a figure when asked what the company planned to invest, but spoke of donating a machine to Tarrant County College and developing and installing software at Aledo High School.
“We’re reaching out to manufacturing companies and asking them to invest with us,” he said.
Vernon Anderson, a Bell employee and a member of the new Aledo ISD Education Foundation Board, worked with Knight on the initiative.
Anderson approached the school board with the idea in July, Citty said, and will now chair a Bell committee to get the program up and running in Aledo,
Anderson discussed how the district could access company resources through the partnership at the October board meeting.
He said Bell would equip students to participate in the Real World Design Challenge, a national competition that invites student teams to solve a real-world aeronautics problem.
“Those software programs are worth millions of dollars that I use, and we’re willing to give them to the school district for free to join this RWDC,” he told trustees.
Knight said Bell’s efforts coincide with — but are not coordinated with — House Bill 5, passed by the Texas Legislature in June, with implementation in 2014.
The bill expands graduation requirement options, allowing students to add classes that lead to technical careers instead of college.
Districts can also create “rigorous” courses — with the help of industries and community colleges — that both count toward graduation and help build a skilled workforce.
The bill will allow Aledo ISD to use Bell’s training curriculum to create a specific STEM — science, technology, engineering and math/manufacturing — degree track on the AHS main campus.
Executive Director of Curriculum Kathy Allen said the first new course the district will offer will be Concepts of Engineering, followed by Engineering Design and Presentation the second year, with the added benefit that the courses serve as prerequisites for robotics programs at Weatherford College.
Citty, impressed by a recent tour of Bell, said he appreciated Anderson’s input, calling him a “zealot for his company with a vision for our kids.”
“The Aledo ISD recognizes the importance of college-readiness and workforce development programs for our students including advanced learning in science, technology, engineering and math,” Citty said.
“Working with Bell Helicopter will elevate the students of Aledo ISD and offer them real-life experiences that are not offered in many districts across the country.”
District to launch STEM degree track
BY JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
Plans move forward for new judge
The new judge for Parker County Court at Law No. 2 will be chosen by voters in November, but plans are underway now to determine who will appear on the ballot.
Buchanan to step down as AISD head football coach
Aledo ISD has announced a restructuring of the athletic department for the 2014 school year. At his request, Coach Tim Buchanan will become the fulltime athletic director so he may focus on the entire athletic program of the district as it continues to grow.
Water park burglar sought
Hudson Oaks police are requesting the public’s assistance in catching a burglar who broke into Splash Kingdom Water Park in Hudson Oaks earlier this month.
Commissioner at odds with school district's demand for land
Aledo ISD superintendent Derek Citty is moving forward with plans backed by the school board in May — plans to secure two school sites in the Morningstar subdivision, slated for the corner of Old Weatherford Road and FM Road 3225 in the City of Fort Worth’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
An unforgettable state championship
Corey Kiser and Riley Sartain, members of Aledo High School’s state champion softball team, honored by trustees last week, are to blame for the 10-3 tattoo on the finger of their coach, Jeff Lemons.
Firefighter arrested for child sexual assault
A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested July 21, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
Fire protection improving in Aledo
Stephen Watson, interim chief of Emergency Services District No. 1, briefed the Aledo City Council on improvements to the city’s fire protection — including the purchase of a site for a new fire station — in Thursday night’s Aledo City Council session.
Aledo ISD trustees affirm hiring policy
The Aledo ISD School Board affirmed a policy delegating the hiring of most school personnel to the administration by a 4-1 margin last week, with trustees Jay Stringer, David Tillman, Hoyt Harris and Steve Bartley voting in favor and trustee Bobby Rigues arguing that the board should retain the responsibility.
Aledo coffee shop helps support the troops
HUDSON OAKS — Wild West Splash Kingdom was the host of military members and military supporters the night of Saturday, July 19, during ‘Salute the Troops,’ sponsored by Holy Grounds Coffee and Gifts in Aledo and Ducerus College Planning.
Calendar of events
Holy Grounds Coffee & Gifts, at 108 Jearl Street, is hosting a series of outdoor movies in their parking lot at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays through Aug. 23.
Admission is free and feature drinks are half price during the films. “The Amazing Spiderman” is Aug. 2, followed by “Tangled” on Aug. 9, “The Lego Movie” on Aug. 16 and “The Avengers” on Aug. 23.
For more information, call 817-440-7770.
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