Alyssa Chang and Jasmine Wongphatarakul

   West Ranch High School junior James Walusko’s days are filled with balancing school work, practicing the trumpet and training to become a pilot. 

   “Both of my grandparents were pilots, as well as my great grandparents, which really motivated me to follow the family tradition,” said Walusko. “Also, it’s overall just super fun and interesting.” 

   The load of schoolwork, tests, sports and other after school activities creates stress for most high school students, while Walusko is slowly but steadily working towards his lifetime goal. 

   Walusko confidently states, “Compared to my friends, it’s relieving because I don’t have the stress from school. Now I have a real goal to work towards.” As he watches his peers struggle  identifying their goals, Walusko is thankful that he knows “the short term problems at school aren’t going to matter a lot when there’s a main goal.” 

   Currently, he’s participating in ground school, which is where he learns the most information about becoming a pilot from a professor that teaches advanced details of flying an airplane. Last year, he participated in a summer camp at California Aeronautical University in Bakersfield, where he will be attending college. At the university, he was taught the basics of flying such as how to read the instrument panels and controls, as well as given the opportunity to fly with a flight instructor. 

   Walusko states that he was able to fly a plane “for a little over an hour: take off, landing and everything in between.” 

   Though most may be surprised that a high school student can fly an airplane, James believes that he is just a high school student moving ahead towards his goal. 

   When flying an airplane, the most important thing is “definitely being able to keep your cool.” Walusko describes that the chances of things going wrong will increase if he does not keep the calm viewpoint. 

   When studying to become a pilot, James always keeps a positive and passionate attitude as he patiently learns all the small details involved with becoming a pilot. It’s not easy to be so focused on one subject at a young age, but James’s exceptional attitude and passion makes it possible to pursue what is thought of as almost impossible. 

   As Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Though Walusko knows that it won’t be easy to become a professional pilot at such a young age, he is determined to keep thriving in order to pursue his dream and be able to fly a plane once again. West Ranch High School looks forward to and cheers on Walusko pursuing his dream and being able to thrive as a young pilot.