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Steubenville City Schools, community leaders gather to break ground on $16 million STEM building | News, Sports, Jobs

GROUND BROKEN — Community leaders and school officials broke ground Wednesday for Steubenville City School’s new, 28,000- square-foot STEM building. — Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — Hailing the project as “an expression of who we are as a school district,” Steubenville City Schools and community leaders gathered Wednesday to break ground for their new, 28,000-square-foot, $16 million STEM building.

The new building, which will connect to the existing high school with a catwalk, will focus on preparing students for high-paying careers that build on science, technology and math, along with college credit learning opportunities. It’s expected to open in the fall of 2023-24, though that could be impacted by weather.

“We believe this building is a place where high school students will be given an educational experience not found anywhere else in this area,” Principal Ted Gorman told the crowd. “In addition to graduating from our STEM program, they’ll have an opportunity to get into high-paying careers” that will allow them to live and work in Steubenville.

“It’s an expression of who we are as a school district,” Gorman said, adding, “This building is going to be built to last, but it’s also going to be a place where we can grow and change and adapt to society. As people in industry need workers, we want to be able to change our building around (to accommodate their needs.)”

Superintendent Melinda Young credited board members and community supporters for their commitment to the project, adding the Brooks Foundation had donated $100,000 to start a new program and CHANGE Inc., which is partnering with SCS to open a new clinic in the building “so we’ll be able to offer vision and dental care for students.”

It hard to believe we’re standing here today,” she said. “When this was just an idea eight years ago it was a dream — we knew what we wanted for our kids , we knew our students deserve the very best and we knew for the future that STEM education is what’s going to benefit our community and our students the best. Our issue was where do we get the money?”

Young said that hurdle was cleared when the school got its American Rescue Plan funding, federal funding intended to help communities rebound from the pandemic economy.

“We were able to pull that funding together with other money, that’s how this building is being paid for. It isn’t taxpayer money, we didn’t go for another levy or anything like that,” she added.

Shana Wydra, director of SCS STEM/CTE program, said it’s really exciting for the district, “because we’ll have a K-12 … really, a Pre-K-12 … STEM program.” SCS currently has a STEM program for younger students at McKinley School.

“We can’t thank you enough for guiding us down that road,” she said, pointing out they already have 11 STEM programs operating in the high school.

“Those programs will come to our new site, which we’re really excited about because we’ll have bigger (spaces), bigger equipment,” she said. “And we’ve met with community partners and stakeholders so we’re already excited about new programming we’re going to bring in that our students are already excited for.”

Current plans call for adding “three or four” new programs in the 2023-24 school year. Wydra said they’ve surveyed students to gauge their interests, “so it aligns with the job market and what our students are interested in doing.”

“We’re really excited to give them those skills and keep them here, in our hometown, where we want them to be and they want to be,” she said.

Natalie Campana, AeroSTEM Instructor, read comments from Big Red’s 1940 yearbook celebrating the dedication of the original high school.

“This is what they said,” Campana said, “and those words still hold true.”

lt “talked about investing in students, being an educational leader in the community,” she read. “Today, we’re committed to build for the future an innovative, high quality (STEM) facility.

“Steubenville City Schools believes, invests, transforms student lives for a lifetime of success, dreams become realities continuing. Thank you to everyone who believes, and you will see ‘dreams become reality’ continuing at Fourth Street.”

Board President William Hendricks extended “thanks and appreciation” to all involved.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t express how important and how needed this STEM building is to all of us, to our community,” he said.

He called it “a dream come true” and spoke of the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge and skill sets in demand in business and industry circles, so they won’t have to leave the Ohio Valley to find jobs and start families.

“But most of all, I think we’re going to be able to catch the kids who fall through the cracks,” he said. “We lose kids who fall through the cracks through no fault of their own. We think by having this STEM building and STEM education, we’re going to be able to hold these kids here and build a valuable commodity for our community.”

Big Red’s STEM program currently offers aerospace engineering and aviation; global logistics and supply chain management; health informatics; innovations in science and technology; drafting/machining/CAD; multimedia and design/web design; marketing; information technology; transition to work; exercise science; and teacher education, along with workforce development training in phlebotomy and pharmacy tech in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College.

For the 2023-24 school year they’re looking at environmental sustainability, clean energy and power, clean energy technology, integrated production technologies and biomedical sciences.

All STEM/career tech courses are “aligned” for students to receive articulated college credits, and “many of our programs allow students to receive dual high school credit as well.”

“This is a big day for the community,” Young said. “These are extremely high-paying jobs and many of them can be performed anywhere, so it’s not like they’d have to move. They can do them from wherever they live.”

She said students can earn associate degrees while they’re getting certification in their chosen career path, “that really gives them a leg up on other people when they apply for jobs.”

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