By Blaire Sheftel, Staff Writer
Board Chair Victoria Gmelich and Head of School Mary Sciarillo announced that the school was recognized as a Program of Distinction for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools on Nov. 18. The school is the first all-girls school in the country and the first high school in New Jersey to receive this distinction.
“This award is a testament to what we set out to do in 2011,” Gmelich told The Two River Times. “We hope to continue to be pioneers and leaders.”
The school received this distinction because its STEM program emphasizes dynamics, relevance and overall hands-on experience. The engineering curriculum is aligned with those typically found in colleges, and the school’s unique learning models recognize the importance of collaboration and design thinking.
“We are honored to be recognized by Middle States for our STEM program,” said Mary Mahon Sciarrillo, head of school. “We are dedicated to providing our students with academic and social skills that will serve them now and throughout life. The curriculum and structure of our STEM program is a key example of this.”
Both student and faculty members actively work with area groups to establish internship opportunities for students and earn grants to continue to expand STEM equipment and offerings. Grants already awarded have allowed students to use technologies, such as 3D printers and laser cutters.
Students were able to put their knowledge of these advanced additions to the program on Nov. 13 by participating in a roundtable experience at the technology company Commvault, which is located next to the school. By learning from Commvault’s Women in Technology group, the students were able to further consider potential careers in STEM. “My knowledge was broadened on the extensive fields that engineering offers, so many of which I never even knew about,” senior Kylie Hall said. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to visit.”
STEM teacher Clint Gibson said that faculty members have worked to make the program “rigorous and applicable to the real world,” and this award reflects their successful efforts.