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THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

Two adults and one student give a thumbs up while a drone can be seen flying on the screenRoncalli alum, now a Colt, is officially a drone pilot

In 2021, Bryan Putnam instituted Roncalli STEM Academy’s first ever Advanced Drones Class, designed to prepare students to pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 exam, required for the certification of pilots for commercial operations.

Earlier this month, Mr. Putnam received the pleasing news that one of the students in that class, Armando Abarca-Martinez, passed the “challenging and ambitious” exam to become a certified remote pilot.

“The exam preparation required students to master a diverse array of topics, including drone regulations, the National Airspace System, aeronautical sectional charts, weather, and micrometeorology, among other drone-specific operations and best practices,” Mr. Putnam said. “Unlike traditional middle school coursework, this class demanded a deep understanding of ever-changing regulations and practical knowledge of drone operations.”

After leaving Roncalli and transitioning to Pueblo South High School, Armando maintained his enthusiasm for drones and frequently communicated to Mr. Putnam his desire to take the Part 107 exam.

“Demonstrating exceptional dedication, Armando scored 90 percent or above on two practice exams, proving his readiness for the official test,” Mr. Putnam said. “With support from Roncalli Principal Mike Cservenak and Assistant Principal Efrain Tapia, we secured the necessary funding for the exam.”

Armando passed the test with flying colors, scoring 92 percent. He hopes to put his talents, and license, to use, in the promotion of Pueblo, its businesses and amenities.

“This achievement made Armando the first and only student from Roncalli STEM Academy’s drones program to earn a certification as a Remote Pilot with a Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems rating,” Mr. Putnam said. “Armando’s accomplishment is a testament to his hard work, perseverance, and passion for learning.

"As Armando continues his education and pursues his interests in aviation, technology, and photography, his journey reminds us of the heights that can be reached through determination and support.”

With the closure of Roncalli due to severe structural issues, Mr. Putnam will begin the next phase of his career at Central: like Roncalli a STEM institution.