DoD STARBASE Wisconsin 2.0’s afterschool program celebrates the graduation of four new Aviators. Eighth grade students at Congress Year-Round School (CYRS) in Milwaukee Wisconsin entered the world of Aviation Education by joining the DoD STARBASE 2.0 Aviators’ Club. The club is a new afterschool program which began in March 2017 on Milwaukee’s Northside. The inaugural class includes Ryghtious Frazier, A’anna Johnson, Courtney Smith, and Isaiah Stiger.

Ginger Washington (right), a teacher at Congress Year Round School, and Gaige Armour (center) conduct a Pre-Flight Check of a CESSNA 172 with John Puttre (left) , President of EAA Chapter 320.
Ms. Washington completed her Eagle Flight.

The Aviators’ Club marks the first time that STARBASE Wisconsin offered an afterschool program to expand their outreach beyond their school-day academy. Congress School established a partnership with STARBASE Wisconsin in 2012. Since then, 6 classes of 180 Congress School students attended the five day Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) academy. DoD STARBASE staff reconnects with Alumni as middle school students with the afterschool program.

During the DoD STARBASE 2.0 Aviators’ Club, students were immersed in the world of aviation through 30 hours of instruction by volunteer pilots serving as mentors and STARBASE educators. The program included an abbreviated Ground School from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Private Pilot requirements and Flight Performance Training with Flight Simulators.

Aviators were also introduced to the Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) Cadet Program by CAP members. Youth were encouraged to continue their exploration of Aerospace and Aviation Education by joining the Civil Air Patrol Timmerman Composite Squadron or the local Experimental Aircraft Association both located just down the road at Timmerman Airport. Courtney Smith encourages other youth to join the program, “because it is a great experience if you like planes or are interested in flying them.”

Isaiah Stiger practices flying an airplane on a Microsoft Flight Simulator. Flight simulator practice happens at Congress Year Round School weekly during the afterschool program.
A’anna Johnson (right) and Courtney Smith (left) practice flying above the islands of Hawaii. Simulators bring youth a window to the world. Youth also flew through the mountains of Las Vegas and Northern California.

Kina Upchurch and Ginger Washington are Middle School Educators at CYRS who serve as faculty advisers to the Aviators Club.

The graduation ceremony was held on Thursday, June 1st at Congress Middle School. The young “Aviators” were also offered a Young Eagles orientation flight offered by pilots from Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 320 located in Watertown WI who flew to Milwaukee County’s Timmerman Airport.

To learn more about DoD STARBASE afterschool and school-day programs in Wisconsin, visit Or, contact Colonel John Puttre, Director of STARBASE Wisconsin, via email at or telephone at (414) 535-5786.