Wake County Schools

Raleigh high school focus is on science, engineering

Posted August 15, 2011

— Wake County's newest high school does not have any sports teams or drama or art classes, but students will graduate with a diploma and two years of college credit.

The Wake-North Carolina State University STEM Early College High School, a partnership between the Wake County Public School System and N.C. State – opened its doors last week on the N.C. State campus to 55 high school freshmen wanting to focus their high school careers on science and engineering.

All of the students applied to go to the school, which is part of the national STEM Program that aims to help prepare students for the global economy by specializing in curriculums focused on science, technology, engineering or math.

School administrators say the student population is racially and economically diverse. About half are male, and 70 percent of all students are non-white. Forty-three percent will be the first in their families to go to college and 45 percent qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch.

Wake County has several STEM programs throughout the school system, 10 of which started at schools this year. The Wake-N.C. State program is the only one that has its own campus.

"I thought it would be a good chance to be different and stand out," said student Camaya Matthews.

"It's amazing," said Alyssa Sanchez. "I like the environment. I like being around other people that want to do the same thing I want to do."

At the school, students take the same basic requirements that all other public high school students do. The difference, however, is that all courses carry the theme of science, technology, engineering and math.

Teachers, like Carrie Horton, say it's a unique experience for them, too.

"The students are really enthusiastic," Horton said. "They're excited about being here, because they got to choose to come here."

Principal Rob Matheson says the school plans to double the student population over the next several years.

"This school is really a great opportunity for the students of Wake County, and hopefully it will become a model for other students in North Carolina," he said.


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  • marm Aug 16, 2011

    As I look back at what my daughter's schedule would be this school year had she gone to a traditional school, there was not one music or art class listed. With sports, she plays tennis- also not provided at any schools she could have attended.

    Also, my child was not bored with anything at her previous schools. She was tired of being with kids who weren't interested in learning, so she pursued the Wake Early College High School programs. I'm thankful for a school system which provides us with choices through magnet programs, trying to help us meet the learning styles of our children.

    It isn't perfect, but we aren't perfect either.

  • NCraised Aug 16, 2011

    Why does it have to be up to the schools to expose them to "arts and other disciplines"? Maybe schools should be more focused on teaching students marketable career skills in fields where talented people are desperately needed and let the parents make sure they are cultured. Something tells me these kids will be well-rounded because they have parents who care enough to get them in to a school that will give them a strong foundation and a head start in college.

  • lauraleigh Aug 15, 2011

    I'm not sure I like this. Kids need exposure to arts and other disciplines in order to become truly well-rounded men and women.

  • whistler411 Aug 15, 2011

    THERE IS NO TEACHER'S UNION IN NC. Yes, the all-caps are used for a reason.

  • whistler411 Aug 15, 2011

    "we will clearly remain on top of the gobal economy"
    You mean we are now??????

  • chip4 Aug 15, 2011

    Spending 13.5 billion out of a 19.5 billion dollar budget is not destroying education. We just need to get Washington out of the way, teacher's unions open to change and a climate of trying new programs like this to inspire education.

  • LocalYokel Aug 15, 2011

    wow! 55 students! With such dedication to science and engineering education, we will clearly remain on top of the global economy.

  • geosol Aug 15, 2011

    Excellent! We need to LEAD in STEM education programs, not just try to keep up. Keep up the good work, ignore the REPUBLICANS who are trying to destroy public schools, and help make all Wake Co. public schools a force for attracting new businesses and investment.

  • whistler411 Aug 15, 2011

    Must be nice to be able to teach a classroom full of students who applied to be in class and want to be there. The mainstream classroom is certainly not like that.