Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater High to open aeronautical academy

CLEARWATER — With the opening of a new aviation academy, students at Clearwater High School soon will be able to graduate with a pilot's license — and a head start in the field of aeronautics and aerospace.

The Clearwater Aeronautical Space Academy, or CASA, will have a soft launch in January, with one class about unmanned aircraft available to students. A full schedule of classes in piloting, engineering, space flight and aeronautical science will be available in the 2014-15 school year through a partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

"We're really excited," principal Keith Mastorides said.

Pinellas has been exploring a partnership with Embry-Riddle for several years, Lisa Wolf, a district spokeswoman, said in an email. She said administrators were having trouble selecting a high school to host the program because they couldn't find a certified teacher who could teach aviation. But Clearwater High's JROTC instructor is a certified pilot and volunteered to teach a class of aviation and aerospace, she said.

Mastorides said the program is a natural fit for Clearwater High. Embry-Riddle has its main campus in Daytona Beach, but operates two satellite campuses in Tampa. The high school started a "wall-to-wall" academy concept last year in which all students take classes in career-themed areas, such as business, science and technology, fine arts and hospitality.

"It's a new way of thinking," Mastorides said of the academies, with the idea that students can earn industry certifications, giving them either a jump-start into college or a path directly to work.

Any student at Clearwater High, including those enrolled in special application programs, can join the new aviation academy. Those who do can earn their pilot's license and up to 30 college credits by the time they graduate.

Three of the proposed classes are high school courses, while the rest are college-level, dual-enrollment classes, Mastorides said. Students will get plenty of hands-on experience, with flight simulators and use of unmanned aircraft.

Embry-Riddle already has a presence in several school districts, including Charlotte, Palm Beach and Okaloosa counties. Last spring, it sought funding from the Florida Legislature to expand its career academy network, citing a growing demand for its graduates. The university also is launching a similar program in January at Pasco County's Sunlake High School.

Nearly 2,000 aviation and aerospace companies operate in Florida, according to Embry-Riddle.

Mastorides said the number of seats and classes offered to students at Clearwater High will be based on the level of interest. And so far, he said, there's been "a ton of interest."

Pinellas also is considering whether to add an aerospace component to Clearwater High's feeder schools — Oak Grove and Clearwater Fundamental middle schools — to give younger students a "jump on it," he said.

Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek contributed to this report. Contact Cara Fitzpatrick at or (727) 893-8846. Follow @Fitz_ly on Twitter.

Clearwater High to open aeronautical academy 11/28/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando commission to seek state audit of sheriff's spending

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The politically volatile idea of using a separate taxing district to fund Sheriff Al Nienhuis' budget is once again off the table.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   TimesTo clear up questions about the way Sheriff Al Nienhuis accounts for his agency's money,  county commissioners have asked for a formal audit through the state Auditor General's Office.
  2. PolitiFact: Did Confederate symbols gain prominence in the civil rights era?


    A major catalyst in the run up to the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Va., was the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

    Tom Lever, 28, and Aaliyah Jones, 38, both of Charlottesville, put up a sign that says "Heather Heyer Park" at the base of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee monument in Emancipation Park on  Aug. 15 in Charlottesville, Va.  (AP Photo/Julia Rendleman)
  3. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

  4. USF panel to discuss on-campus stadium today


    The University of South Florida today will take another step in what it describes as "a long process" of exploring the possibility of building an on-campus football stadium.

    A conceptual look at one of two potential sites for an on-campus stadium at the University of South Florida. This location is on the west side of campus, just north of Fowler Avenue and east of Bruce B. Downs. [University of South Florida]
  5. No easy answer to the Dunedin parking question

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — Nothing has been more divisive in this city than the issue of paid parking.

    A server at Cafe Alfresco (background) claims Dunedin's new paid parking has cost him money. Dunedin began a paid parking last October. Nine months in, residents, business owners and city officials all share mixed feelings. In October, when the one-year program ends, the city will have until November to come up with another solution to its parking woes, or continue the paid parking program at the risk of angering locals.JIM DAMASKE   |   Times