Summer Program

Professor Mark Fitzgerald shows students Noah Moss, right, and Caleb Sears how to put together a small drone on Monday during their first day at Learning Can Be Fun, Blue Ridge Community College’s summer program for youth.

WEYERS CAVE — Students from kindergarten to high school are on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College this summer to learn about new things and have adventures through the school’s Learning Can Be Fun Summer Program for Youth.

BRCC has been hosting students from area school divisions for weeklong enrichment classes for more than 20 years, said Bridget Baylor, director of public relations.

There will be several hundred students on campus throughout the course of the summer. Classes meet for three hours a day for a week. There are sessions running twice daily.

“Some are all day,” Baylor said. “[For] the water stuff, they leave in the morning and are gone all day to water tube or whatever it is.”

Classes this week include: American Sign Language, script writing and performance, drone technology for young pilots, pre-veterinary technology, adventure sports fun, building a computer from parts, stage combat, let’s animate with flash and water adventure.

Because the program has been offered for so many years, Baylor said it’s not uncommon for former camp attendees to show up after high school as enrolled students at BRCC.

Mark Fitzgerald led a group of four students in the first day of drone building on Monday. Students were engaged in putting together a small drone called “The Spark.”

Fitzgerald said that before students would get the chance to fly drones themselves, they would learn about safety and the legal aspects of drone flying. New regulations recently came out about the recreational use of drones, Fitzgerald said.

He explained that anyone using a drone to make money had to pass a test to and secure a Part 107 certificate to become a certified drone pilot with the Federal Aviation Administration.

And the laws for casual drone users are getting tighter too, Fitzgerald said.

“It’s to help prevent accidents, especially near airports,” he said.

Once students have an understanding of the rules and how to be safe with drones, they’ll get a chance to fly them this week.

Because of BRCC’s close proximity to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, they are only allowed to fly the drones up to 100 feet on campus. They also have the option of flying them in a high-ceiling room in the school’s Rec Center.

Longtime educator Julie Foster led a group of about seven students in their first American Sign Language lesson on Monday. She taught them a song called “Good Morning,” about starting the day that students could sing and sign to.

Foster recently retired from the Harrisonburg school division and teaches now at Bridgewater College. She has been participating in BRCC’s summer camp for more than 15 years.

She said it’s good to see students learning new subjects over the summer.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or Follow Megan on Twitter @DNR_Learn

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