XLR8 STEM Academy ribbon cutting in Lynchburg

XLR8 STEM Academy ribbon cutting in Lynchburg with Bob McDonnell

Governor McDonnell Achieves campaign promise of doubling the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) academies in Virginia

New School Becomes Virginia’s 16th STEM Academy

LYNCHBURG –Governor Bob McDonnell visited Central Virginia Community College today to watch a 2009 campaign promise come to fruition. The governor attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for XLR8 STEM Academy, Virginia’s 16th STEM academy. With the school’s opening, the number of STEM academies in the Commonwealth has now doubled from January 2010, fulfilling a promise made by then-candidate Bob McDonnell while on the trail four years ago.  XLR8 will launch this coming academic year on the campus of Central Virginia Community College in the AREVA Technology Center, which will provide students with access to lab equipment and classroom space.  XLR8 has been a joint effort by the Region 2000 Technology Council, Future Focus Foundation and Workforce Investment Board; Central Virginia Community College; the school divisions of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Campbell and Lynchburg; and area business partners, including AMTI, AREVA, The Babcock and Wilcox Company, Centra, Delta Star and Wells Fargo.  XLR8 compliments current regional K-12 STEM activities and workforce development initiatives. The goal of this institution is to help close the gap between education and industry and further the economic vitality of this region.

The STEM Academy curriculum will offer students an opportunity to learn in an innovative, engaging classroom where students will develop critical thinking skills through hands-on, project-based learning.  STEM Academy students will receive dual enrollment credits for all courses; allowing them the option to work toward a college degree.  Additionally, the STEM Academy will offer transfer possibilities through articulation agreements with local colleges and universities for students wishing to continue their education.  STEM Academy students will also be able to earn industry certifications, allowing for job readiness upon program completion.

Speaking about today’s ribbon cutting, Governor McDonnell remarked, “Making sure Virginia’s students have access to the best education possible is the single most important thing we can do to ensure their success in the future.  In today’s highly technical global economy, careers in science, technology, engineering and math are on the rise.  In order for our students to be successful and fill rapidly expanding technical jobs, we must ensure mastery of the STEM subjects.  Over the last three years, we have seen a doubling of STEM academies in the Commonwealth.  Today, I am pleased to join XLR8, Central Virginia Community College and AREVA to cut the ribbon and officially open the Commonwealth’s 16th STEM academy.  STEM academies are partnerships created between K-12 schools and our colleges which provide our students with new opportunities through the use of state of the art labs, access to instructors at the college level, and the ability to earn dual course credit.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “Through sweeping education reform initiatives advanced over the last three years, we have increased education opportunities to our children while simultaneously ensuring that our schools and educators have the tools they need to succeed.  We set a goal of making sure that every student, regardless of their zip code, would have access to a high quality education.  We started by working to create new learning opportunities in Virginia.  We then began to address reforms needed within existing schools to support our teachers, attract the best educators, better equip our students and raise the bar to better compete in today’s global society.  Through compensation programs such as our performance pay pilot initiative and this year’s Strategic Compensation Grants program, we are able to reward the best teachers for their great work in closing the achievement gap and seeing their students succeed.  We adopted an A-F school grading system so that parents clearly understand how their student’s school is actually performing.  We raised third grade reading standards so that no child is overlooked or moves on before they are ready.  And, we are working to recruit and retain more teachers in the vitally important STEM subjects.  We are committed to providing a world-class education in every corner of the Commonwealth and the education reforms we have advanced over the last three years have helped us achieve this ambitious goal.”

During his campaign, Governor McDonnell made a promise to double the number of STEM academies in Virginia.  Today’s ribbon cutting marks the 16th STEM academy to open in the Commonwealth, with six additional academies subsequently approved by the Board of Education.

Read the full press release: here

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