With the new year, comes changes for the students and staff of STEM, the most noticeable of which will be that lack of laptops around campus.
Beginning this year, students will no longer be given laptops to take home during the school year; and seeing students playing with their laptops will not be a common occurrence on campus.
The STEM administration made this decision in part because of the damages that laptops underwent while in the care of students, but also because, as Director Cynthia Rinehart put it during the student assembly, “our cell phones are more advanced than the laptops.”
While there are many students in the STEM program that will miss the luxury of a laptop at their finger tips 24/7, some students, like senior Erica Juarez, never really had need for the technology and are glad they won’t have to carry around the extra weight.
Another major difference for STEM students will be a stricter grading policy. STEM has always required that students maintain passing grades in all classes, but now, Rinehart will be implementing a newer, stricter, grading policy.
Students will have to have an 80 in all classes for every progress report. If they don’t, they will be on probation and have mandatory tutoring until their grades are back up, or they will be asked to leave the program at the end of the semester.
In the past, the grade requirement hasn’t been successfully enforced, and some students are skeptical as to whether it will be now.
“It’s different, and I’m not sure it will really be enforced,” Senior, Jordan Hill-Ross said. “Every other attempt has failed, but who knows?”
STEM will aslo be introducing new career paths to the program. Career paths are a set of courses that students take to prepare them for whatever field they want to go into after high school and college.
When STEM was created, students could either follow an engineering or biomedical career path. STEM has been expanded to include career paths for all four subjects in its name; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
While this change doesn’t really affect upperclassmen, some do have an opinion on it. Senior Marissa Keller, biomed student, thinks “the new career paths will help grow STEM” but she wishes she had the options incoming freshman will have.
“I would have liked to do something with computer graphics, so I would have gone with technology,” Keller said.
STEM has always required its students to do community service, and it still does, but the specific requirements have changed. STEM students used to need to acquire 120 hours of community service by the end of senior year and they could complete these hours any time during their high school career. Now, there is a minimum hour requirement each year.
Underclassmen, freshmen and sophomores need to complete 15 hours and upperclassmen, juniors and seniors have to do 25 hours.
When it was first announced, some students were in shock as they had the impression their hours were starting over completely. Keller was worried that none of her 200 accumulated hours counted, but this was not the case.
The new expectation is being put into place to ensure that students continue doing community service through the end of senior year and don’t wait until the last minute or get them out of the way when they enroll.
According to Rinehart, STEM wants to create young adults that are not only adept in STEM subjects and school in general, but also well rounded and involved. In order to reach this goal, they are requiring students to participate in at least one Lee High School extracurricular.
“It’s important to be engaged and expand your knowledge, and the new extracurricular requirement helps us do that,” said Keller. “And they also give us the chance to build stronger relationships with our teachers and peers.”
STEM students have a very strong sense of community within the program and now, the involvement in new activities will allow them to expand the community in which they reside.
Because STEM is a relatively new school, they haven’t ever had a mascot and have just called themselves volunteers. This year, however, a mascot has been decided. At a work shop over the summer, Rinehart read a story by Jon Gordon, The Shark and the Goldfish, about a goldfish that learns to be a shark and overcomes fear in the face of adversity.
Rinehart hopes for STEM and its students to overcome the obstacles that are put in front of them in spite the doubt of others, so, from this year on, STEM students and Faculty will be the STEM Sharks.
In creating a mascot for the school, STEM is also implementing changes to the social community of the magnet program.
The school will also be hosting social and game nights for its students throughout the school year.
Sophomore Jeffery Childers said, “a game night sounds a little cheesy” but socials might work to help increase the community in the school.
According to Rinehart, STEM is making it a priority to unite its members.