SAWYER, N.D. (KXNET) — In order to help support the inaugural year of Sawyer Public School’s Drone Racing and eSports programs, Minot’s own SRT Communications has made a sizeable $5,000 donation to the academy — which will be used to buy computers, accessories, drones, controllers, headsets, and other necessary equipment.

The new programs offer both drone racing and online gaming opportunities to students in grades 7-12 — which are the only in-house extracurricular activities on campus.

This, the school’s Athletic Director and Program Leader Ryan Stockie states, provides students with both a social and emotional learning environment as well as multiple technological opportunities that challenge their minds and bodies.

“It gets rid of the bias or stereotype linked to gaming because it uses technology as a keyhole to physical activity as well,” stated Stockie in a press release. “It also gives exposure to training in potential jobs that may be available to these kids after high school.”

Currently, the drone racing team practices and competes using drone simulation software, and the team has four drones to fly on-site. While this year’s state tournament was canceled, Stockie notes that the team is looking forward to competing in 2024.

The Drone Racing season will end soon and is followed by a 10-week competitive eSports season — in which Sawyer students will compete against others throughout not only the state but in South Dakota and Minnesota as well. After choosing from a variety of games, students will be matched with competitors by skill level.

“Programs like Sawyer Public School’s are an example of the future,” stated SRT Board President Kristi Miller in the release. “Traditional athletics are important, but so are other opportunities that give students a chance to expand their minds and abilities. We at SRT feel it’s crucial to support our communities, and technology opportunities like this one.”

Both the Drone Racing and eSports programs at Sawyer Public School are facilitated by Fenworks in Grand Forks.