Written by Kathy Voytko
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 00:00
Clark County is just days away from joining the national spotlight as the home of the first Global Impact STEM Academy in Ohio. There is only one other school in the nation that will provide high school students with the opportunity of a lifetime. The school is modeled after the Biotechnology Agriscience STEM School located in North Carolina. State Senator Chris Widener has been leading the way for the historical South High School building in Springfield to be turned into the home of a high school where students will not only earn a high school diploma, but a college transcript with up to two years of college credit.
Widener explained at a public hearing held at the Springfield City Schools Clark Center that 1 in 7 jobs involve food, fuel or fiber. The school will have a curriculum centered on energy, advanced materials, aerospace, automotive, bioscience and food service. The goal is to prepare the students of today for the jobs that will lead us into the future. According to Widener, by the year 2050, food production will need to increase by 100%, leading to the need for creative ideas to feed the global population. Students will work on group projects and experience digital learning provided by The Ohio State University, Clark State and Wright State. Battelle, a leader in innovation, will also be involved in designing and preparing the programs. Students will have internship opportunities with companies across the region while taking their classes. Unlike other programs, the students will be able to stay connected to their home school for participation in sports, band and choir for example.
The school will be funded by public schools funds that will follow the students selected for the program and will be selected using an application process. Widener stated that the students selection “will not be based on GPA,” but rather on the answers they provide on the application. An interview process with student and parent will also be part of the selection process. The plan is to begin advertising the opportunity to students in the region beginning in January. The first classes for grades 9 and 11 (186 students) is scheduled to begin at the start of classes in the fall of 2013.
South High School was selected because “it is too valuable of an asset” not to be used said Widener. The Springfield City Schools Board of Education and administration worked with Senator Widener to make this school become a reality. The board realizes that when the school is at full capacity (600), they stand to lose 1.5 million dollars in student funding, however the opportunity to provide students with this program was something they had to embrace. Final steps for use of the building will be taken at the next board meeting. Widener explained that all of the Clark County superintendents were included in the discussions leading up to the planning for the project. Funding for the renovations is reported to be 9 million dollars. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission will provide half of the funds with the remaining to be raised by donations. Widener stated that a number of industry leaders that will benefit from the graduates are resources for the remaining funds.
Anyone wishing to learn more about STEM schools that are working with Ohio State may visit www.themetroschool.org. To learn more about the Global Impact STEM Academy, visit GISAohio.blogspot.com. Students from Clark, Greene, Montgomery, Champaign, Madison and other counties will soon be applying for a spot in a high school program that will change their lives and the way America thinks about preparing the leaders of tomorrow.