Phoenix high-tech school off to slow start

December 20, 2009

By hammersmith

Source: Eugene Scott, Arizona Republic, December 20, 2009


A new high school expected to boost the number of Arizona’s science and technology professionals has attracted interest from only about half of the number of students it plans to enroll in the fall.

The Center for Research in Engineering, Science and Technology hopes to enroll as many as 150 students in its freshman class when it opens in northeast Phoenix in fall 2010, but so far slightly more than 60 students have submitted applications for the “small, specialty” school.


CREST will be part of the Paradise Valley Unified School District but will be open to students who live outside the district’s boundaries. School officials have visited every district eighth-grade science class “We’re working with some marketing people that are helping us understand the best way to go forward with sharing this with students outside of our district right now,” said Kathy Lahlum, an adviser to the school.


The school, on the campus of Paradise Valley High School at 40th Street and Bell Road, will focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).


Phoenix proposed a grant two years ago to encourage Phoenix high schools to offer programs that could increase the number of high-school graduates planning to pursue STEM-related careers and post-secondary education. Having a limited number of students graduating from Arizona colleges entering STEM-related fields is a major threat to Arizona’s economy, said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon at the school’s groundbreaking. “This has been about job creation, too,” he said. “Now we get to put lots of people to work.”


School officials hope to partner with professionals in the Valley’s technology- and engineering-related industries to provide instruction, internships and community service activities.  “I retired recently after 47 years working for some of the electrical-equipment manufacturers in the area, so I’d be interested in helping in whatever way I can,” said Peter Kienast, a former electrical engineer who has worked with Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project. “I feel like what they are trying to do is a very good thing.”


The school will have a hands-on curriculum allowing students to research and develop biotechnology projects while spending a lot of time in laboratories, possibly at local colleges and universities. Officials have met with individuals in the state’s university communities to ensure that CREST students will transition seamlessly into the schools’ STEM programs.  “I’ve heard nothing from the sustainability and biotechnology sectors,” Lahlum said. “I’m pushing really hard in that direction, with plans to do that right after the beginning of the year.”


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