The Student News Site of Edmond North High School

The Pawprint | ENHS

The Pawprint | ENHS

The Pawprint | ENHS

Huskies Take Flight


Some people may think that becoming a pilot as a high school student would be about as likely as landing on the moon. However, that isn’t the case. We have multiple student pilots here at our school. They were given this opportunity through JROTC here at Edmond North. 


This means that any students who aren’t graduating next year could enroll and have the same chance these students had.


AFJROTC is the whole title of the program here at North, which stands for Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. As the name suggests, the class has much to do with the Air Force, but also a whole lot of aviation in general. A big part of JROTC has to do with getting students interested in aviation. 


Right now there is a pretty bad problem that started with the COVID-19 pandemic – there is currently a shortage of pilots. The commercial airline industry has about 30,000 fewer pilots than they would want right now, which is actively contributing to increased airplane ticket costs and flight delays. 


A way to give some dedicated and hard-working teens the opportunity of a lifetime, get kids interested in aviation, and combat this issue, is giving them a way to show that they have what it takes and become a pilot before they even graduate high school. 


JROTC currently offers a scholarship to its cadets that, if earned, gives them the chance to obtain their private pilot’s license. The cadets live on Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus for 8 weeks during the summer while they go through a rigorous academic schedule in college classes, physical exercise, and flying airplanes. 


I asked a couple of the young pilots at Edmond North how earning a private pilot’s license impacted their lives now and what they hoped to do with it in the future. Shahzor Kasem, Senior, said “I have hopes to get into the Air Force Academy and this will hopefully put me a leg up on the other candidates. I also hope to retire and go into commercial aviation so this is the perfect entry.” 


If you’re interested in the Air Force, or even aviation outside of the military, this could seriously help you out, and what it takes is, according to Colton Hazzard, Senior, “ a good GPA and a good AFQT (Armed Forces Qualifications Test) score” or for Kasem, his “hard work and years in JROTC”.

Shahzor Kasem (middle), picture provided by Kasem


The program can be pretty rigorous at times, one reason being that the “ground school” or basically learning taking place at a college level is quite difficult, with situations such as memorizing things immediately after learning for a test that could be the very next day. Also, it is an accelerated course, meaning that a lot of instruction was crammed into a smaller amount of time. Hazzard said, “What takes most people a year took us 8 weeks.” In addition to the rigorous coursework, the cadets have to watch their health and habits, because they are getting up at 6 AM for breakfast and flying.


I asked Kasem and another cadet, Emmalee Bowen, Senior, why they really wanted it and why they were willing to work for it. Bowen said, “I have always had drive in everything I do, so when I heard about this, I was all in. Flying had never really been something I considered doing but when a $30,000 scholarship is practically calling your name, you’ve gotta go for it. Just the thought of knowing that when I came back from this scholarship I would be able to say I can fly a plane pushed me to pursue it, and I am extremely grateful that I did.” 


Kasem had a more sentimental reason for earning his wings, “I really wanted to work for it in memory of my Grandfather. My Grandfather was in the Pakistani Air Force and was at the top of his class. However, he had eye problems and back then there were no solutions so he couldn’t become a pilot. Earning my wings was my way of carrying the legacy and Kasem name.”


It seems that while for some an opportunity like this could be a way to honor a loved one, for another it could be the determination to succeed. But whatever the reason, these cadets have accomplished great things even before graduating high school.                                


If you’re going to be at North for a while, and getting a pilot’s license for free is something that you’d be interested in, you can get more information here about North’s JROTC program, the OK-81st:

Picture provided by Kasem


Picture at top of Emmalee Bowen, provided by Bowen

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About the Contributor
Noah Robertson, Staff Writer
Noah Robertson is a Junior at Edmond North. He enjoys playing instruments, singing, sewing, writing, and going on walks. He would like to someday own a restaurant or bar, and live a mostly simple life doing the things he enjoys and experiencing life with loved ones.

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