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PCHS earns STEM Certification Banner

State school superintendent Richard Woods as well as education partners from UGA in Griffin, board of education members and members of the state department of education visited Pike County High School Friday, Jan. 18 as the school was presented with the STEM Certification Banner. ’Earning this is not an easy process and most applicants don’t make the cut right off the bat,’ said state superintendent Richard Woods. ‘Students, I want to emphasize that you are the focus. This program gives you an opportunity to succeed in life, to pursue your dreams and as you graduate, to help you achieve greatness in life. There are many who invested a lot into making this possible and this pathway will help prepare you for wherever you want to go in life. This STEM program has committed teachers who work to provide instruction daily and I thank them for going above and beyond and investing in their students.’ Superintendent Woods challenged the school to continue to invest in the program and possibly expand it to a STEAM program which would provide opportunities for students interested in the fine arts. He noted that while agribusiness is the top business in the state, the fine arts also make up a large part of the economy. He said that the film industry brought more than $60 billion to the state last year. ’The world is changing and we want to make sure to provide you young people with these opportunities as well as the future generations that will come behind you,’ said Woods. The school’s STEM teachers were asked to receive the STEM certification banner in front of the audience which included all students in the STEM pathway. ’Without the support of everyone here, we wouldn’t be having this celebration today. The idea of the STEM program started with a dream in 2012, leveraging the vision of our agriculture program with the incredible strength of our science and math teachers,’ said PCHS principal Kevin Huffstetler. ‘The community believed in the vision enough to vote for an ESPLOST, which paid for the STEM building, breaking ground in 2013. In 2014, students were first enrolled in the STEM program. The 2016-17 school year signaled the inaugural enrollment of interns at the UGA Griffin campus, which is a one-of-a-kind experience afforded to Pike STEM students.’ ’That same year, our STEM pathway teachers began a multi-year professional development with Cultivate21, honing our skills in Project Based Learning. Our first class of STEM graduates was in 2017 and that was quite the celebration,’ said Huffstetler. ‘Then, in the spring of 2018, after six years of building our dream, PCHS was awarded with the STEM certification by the Georgia Department of Education, becoming the first agriculture-focused STEM program in the state.’ School superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan noted that the STEM Academy teaches problem based learning that develops students’ abilities to ‘Think Critically, Act Responsibly, Think Creatively, Communicate Clearly, Collaborate Effectively and Create Digitally’ – all components of the Pike County School Portrait of a Graduate. ’The STEM Certification banner is a symbol of achievement made possible by the efforts of many – including our partners in education, the Pike County board of education, administrators, parents and especially STEM Academy teachers and students,’ said superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan.

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