TRAVERSE CITY -- Incoming freshman at Traverse City West Senior High School soon will have an opportunity to steer into accelerated science, math and technology coursework.
Traverse City Area Public Schools' enhanced science, math and technology program -- Sci-Ma-Tech -- will expand beyond its current home at Traverse City Central High School by the beginning of next school year when it launches at TC West.
"We think if we are offering this at both sides of town you can fill both cohorts," said Heidi Skodack, Central High School principal and STEM k-12 curriculum leader. "Students can go to TC Central for this but they don't want to leave their home school."
Sci-Ma-Tech is an expansion on current curriculum for students who excel in science and technology and Skodack said students in the program complete college-level work.
"One student developed an automated and symbiotic aquaponics system using Michigan-native fish to organically grow flowers, herbs and vegetables in a soil-less system," she said.
Students enrolled in the program will take higher level classes in accelerated geometry, engineering, chemistry, advanced scientific research, advanced placement chemistry or biology and more.
"I think we have had some really high achieving science and math students over the years but we haven't had this program right at our school," said Joe Esper, TC West principal. "It will be nice to have this formalized program so students that want to reach higher can formally do that."
Esper said that Sci-Ma-Tech offers classes required for graduation but goes much more in depth.
"There is definitely some distinctions both in what the students learn and what they do," he said. "There are presentations from local professionals in related industries they will get to see. There is more in context and kids will be able to have. In addition to that, students will be doing more research projects they can present beyond the school setting."
Administrators also believe Sci-Ma-Tech will not add extra expenses to TC West besides the cost of additional supplies and materials. The program will be rolled out over the course of four years at the school to make the transition easier for teachers and students alike.
"It's going to be implemented in a cohort fashion which means it will only be available for our incoming freshman at the beginning of the next school year," Esper said.
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TCAPS currently is training its middle school counselors and administration so that current eighth-graders will know about the program. Applications for the program at both TC Central and TC West will open for incoming freshman toward the end of February.
"We are really excited to add this because it'll be anther option for kids that want to accelerate and we are happy we can add this without taking away anything for other students," Esper said.
TC West implementation
-- 2018-19 -- ninth-grade
-- 2019-20 -- ninth-grade and 10th-grade
-- 2020-21 -- ninth-grade, 10th and 11th-grade
-- 2021-22 -- full implementation
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