Setting a precedent in Calcasieu Parish and serving as a model for future endeavors of its kind, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the parish’s first STEM school at E.K. Key Elementary on Monday, August 20.
The Citgo Innovation Academy will be focused around a STEM integrated curriculum providing students in kindergarten through fifth grade with a unique hands-on learning experience. A STEM program’s focus is on using science, technology, engineering, and math. But the newly opened Academy will encompass even more learning opportunities.
Dana Keel, Government and Public Affairs Manager with Citgo Petroleum said, “It also fosters education in a new realm where it’s not just STEM education — it’s brought through arts, it’s brought through geography and everything else because it’s always asking ‘why’ and ‘how.’”
The Academy is a collaboration between Citgo Petroleum and McNeese State University which will bring students who have tested into the program to E.K. Key each day to focus their abilities on problem solving skills using scientific inquiry.
“The best thing about what we are doing here is we’re allowing students to be able to learn in a different classroom setting, learning that STEM education will bring them into the next millennium of learning,” Keel said.
Holly Holland, Public Information Officer with the Calcasieu Parish School Board said, “This STEM Campus that we have is the first of its kind in the parish. It’s a test-in program in it’s first year so we are very excited about all that’s here and our community partners who have made this a reality.”
McNeese also has a Student Ambassador Program in which students from their Engineering Department will visit the Citgo Innovation Academy, sharing their knowledge in their chosen fields with the eager students. The program encourages learning in a fun and creative way using critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork skills.
Students attending the academy will be part of E.K. Key’s enrollment and will join students at the main campus for enrichment, recess, lunch, field trips, and assemblies.
Keel added, “This program can lead into all aspects of learning. It uses the Engineering Model, which is basically ‘How can you make it better.’ So you go through all these tests and then you come up with a product. So it flows into everything and all of it comes back into that circle of always learning and loving to learn, and improving upon things. When you see these students, they are having a ball.”