New school to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

New STEM School to Begin with 9th/10th Grades

Admission will be by lottery

Plans for Lake Washington School District’s new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School are beginning to take shape. When fully operational, the school will serve students in grades nine through 12. The academic program will focus on problem-based learning, inquiry, integration and research. Students and staff will use STEM education to pursue solutions to real world challenges like clean energy, infrastructure restoration and biomedical informatics.

The school will open in the fall of 2012 with 150 ninth grade students and 150 10th grade students. The school will be open to all students in those grades no matter where they live in Lake Washington School District. Students will be selected through a lottery if more than 150 students per grade apply. Information on how to apply will be provided to parents of current eighth and ninth grade students. A high school options publication with information on all district high schools and special programs for high school students will be mailed in early December. Information will also be posted on the district website at that time.

In the fall of 2013, a new class of ninth graders will enter the school, while students in ninth and 10th grade in the fall of 2012 will matriculate into 10th and 11th grade, respectively. In the fall of 2014, another class of ninth graders will enter. The three classes from 2013-14 will all move up one grade. The result is that classes in all four grades, nine through 12, will be in operation as of the fall of 2014.

The first two years of study in the school will use an integrated approach to the core classes, weaving the STEM theme into all areas of study. In the junior and senior years, students will select a STEM lab concentration, which will combine several classes in a specific focus area, such as environmental engineering and design or computer science. A limited number of students who have not attended the STEM school in their freshman and sophomore years will also be able to access these lab sequences while completing their core classes in their home high school.

Planning principal Cindy Duenas is recruiting staff from within the district to form the new school’s planning team. This team will further develop the school’s academic program in preparation for opening next fall. The team will also form the core staff when the school opens. Duenas was formerly principal of International Community School and Environmental and Adventure School.

A building for the new school is in the process of planning and permitting. It will be located next to Alcott Elementary School in Redmond. Funding for the building is made possible by a tax levy passed by district voters in February 2011. That levy is also funding additions to Eastlake and Redmond High Schools. These three projects will provide space to prevent overcrowding in district high schools.