Aberdeen High School, Aberdeen School District - Air Force JROTC aerial photography project. Partners: Monroe County Chamber of Commerce and Axiall Corporation

Since 1989, Axiall Corporation and its predecessors, Vista Polymers and Georgia Gulf, have been partners in education with Aberdeen High School. Through the years, they've coordinated many partner projects, including academic awards banquets, tutoring, mentoring, shadowing and arts curriculum support, to name a few. Last year, Axiall donated a total of $3,500 to support partnership projects with Aberdeen High School and paid more than $390,000 in school taxes to the Aberdeen district.

In 2014, Aberdeen High School also entered into a unique partnership with Monroe County Chamber of Commerce. It all started when Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Coggin, Aberdeen High School's Air Force JROTC senior aerospace science instructor, applied for and was selected to receive one of a limited number of new IRIS drones. The region is home to numerous aviation-related companies, and Lieutenant Coggin knew that drone technology would provide an exciting STEM education platform to spark cadets' interest in job opportunities in the aerospace industry.

When Skip Skaggs, director of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, learned about the Aberdeen High School drone project, he knew the technology could be used to help with economic development efforts while helping cadets gain work experience. The chamber needed aerial photos of available sites and buildings in Monroe County to use in its marketing efforts. Cadets made a presentation to the chamber about the drone's capabilities to perform aerial photography. After they received the go-ahead from the chamber, students used the drone to take aerial photographs of the Aberdeen Port, which contains a number of key sites and buildings for economic development.

At the time of the award presentation, the Air Force JROTC was planning an Aerospace Exposition at the Monroe County Airport in April 2015 featuring the Phantom II Vision drone and local aerospace industry hardware.