Hoke High drone piloting students win first, fourth in state, will compete nationally

Hoke High drone piloting students win first, fourth in state, will compete nationally

[Photo: Chancellor Morton and Andrew Scott, Hoke High students, won big at the state championship drone piloting

Chancellor Morton and Andrew Scott of Hoke County High School this weekend placed first and fourth, respectively, in the SkillsUSA North Carolina Championships Drone competition. Team members Branson Winburn and Johnathan Halstead helped with drone practice, maintenance, repair and logistics.

Morton will go on to represent North Carolina in the National SkillsUSA Championships drone competition, set for June 19-23 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Morton, Scott, Winburn and Halstead are licensed FAA remote pilots and certified NCDOT government and commercial drone pilots enrolled in teacher Mario Malabunga’s Drone 2 Level class at Hoke County High School. During the state competition, the students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in their chosen occupations. 

The drone team performed a search and rescue mission briefing, drone preparation and execution. They were also tested on their airmen knowledge. Lastly, they demonstrated drone flying skills using NIST props for NFPA 2400 certification in the field.

The SkillsUSA North Carolina Championships took place April 18-20 at the Greensboro Coliseum and Koury Convention Center. The conference was the largest showcase of Career and Technical Education in North Carolina with more than 2,100 career and technical education students competing over 120 hands-on trade, technical and leadership contests. 

The contests spanned more than 95 trade areas including construction, automotive, welding, drafting, public safety, culinary, cosmetology, and more. 

All contests were run with the help of industry, trade associations, and technical experts, using test competencies that are set by industry. Additionally, leadership contestants demonstrated their skills, which included extemporaneous speaking and conducting meetings with parliamentary procedure. 

Over 100 industry partners such as Builders Mutual, 84 Lumber, Lowe’s, NCMCA, Morton Buildings, Brady Services, Carolina Ford Dealers, Milwaukee Tools and many more helped support the competitive events.

Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. 

The SkillsUSA North Carolina Championships are for middle school, high school and college-level students who are members of SkillsUSA. First place winners earn the right to compete in the National SkillsUSA Championships in Atlanta, GA alongside more than 6,000 other competitors from across the country in more than 100 contests.

SkillsUSA (formerly known as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America or V.I.C.A.) is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce by providing students with the opportunities to gain personal skills, workplace skills, and technical skills grounded in academics. 

SkillsUSA chapters help students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations excel. SkillsUSA has more than 350,000 students and instructors as members at the national level.

The drone piloting classes at Hoke County High School are part of the Career and Technical Education program, which offers a wide variety of CTE classes that can prepare students to earn certification or licensure in their chosen field while earning their high school degree. For more information on CTE class offerings like the drone pilot program, students or their families can contact their school guidance counselor.

Malabunga was honored Monday as an Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year.

(Submitted by Hoke County Schools)

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