The new magnet programs at Belaire High and their feeder schools are part of a big expansion of the school system's popular magnet program. The School Board has approved eight new magnet programs since May, bringing the number of schools with such specialized offerings up to 25.
"It's been huge," said Caroline Sharp, Oliver Magnet school drama teacher. "It's been a game changer because we started in a little portable with 25 kids. The next year we applied for a Disney grant and got it, and it changed everything. We had 150 kids try out that year! It has been like that ever since."
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" may be one of the most common questions asked of children. Magnet programs have emerged as a popular way to help them figure it out.
Using the school's focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math across the curriculum, students employed engineering and scientific tools - defining the problem, asking questions and doing research - to determine the symptoms and remedy for a fictitious, mysterious disease that made students, teachers and staff sick.
"The idea that you would intentionally build a student body that is reflective of the region, that's a new thing in Richmond," said Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who recently co-authored a report on school and housing segregation.
They're only in their second year as a STEM school, but their new focus is making a big impact in the classroom, not just in a lab or in science and math classrooms, but all classes.
The Flame Challenge is an annual contest organized by actor Alan Alda and his foundation to inspire scientists to explain complex ideas in terms that a bright 11-year-old might understand.
Students in Dougherty County School System performed extremely well during statewide testing earlier this year. Students took the College and Career Ready Performance Index, CCRPI, and the results came back for 2017. Robert Cross Magnet Middle School scored 101.5 percent.
Paid over a five-year period, the funds will be used for the district's Montage Project, an innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program which will continue the STEM thread from the district's elementary schools to College Hill Middle School, North Heights Junior High and Arkansas High.
The school has been teaching Engineering is Elementary curriculum at higher grades for a few years, but West's class is now one of about 30 in the country - and the only one in Connecticut - piloting the new kindergarten curriculum.
Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.