This week, the L&N STEM Academy in Knoxville will welcome its first regional students, as the Knox County school opens its doors to students that applied from 5 regional county and city school systems for the 2014-2015 academic year. Joined by the Innovation Academy in Blountville, which enrolled students from 4 surrounding counties this year, the L&N STEM Academy and Innovation Academy are the first two schools in the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network with enrollment from throughout the region.
On August 7, the Knox Board of Education voted to allow regional students to attend the STEM Academy after 3 Campbell County students spoke to the board about their desire to join the next class at L&N.
“This opportunity for us is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Noah Smith, a 14 year-old rising Freshman from Campbell County. “It is so great, that we are willing to do anything to be able to attend. This school will give us many opportunities to not only ensure our personal success in the future, but to help us guide students, teens, and adults to better their educational desires and to impact their lives tremendously.”
Smith has aspirations of becoming governor and eventually the President of the United States. He feels L&N STEM Academy will give him what he needs to reach his goals. “I feel that one of the best high school educations can be received at a STEM school and I feel that L&N is [one of the best] with their curriculum and their technology and just their learning experience,” said Smith.
The L&N STEM Academy was started 4 years ago with the intent of becoming a regional school and enrolling 20% of its students from outside of Knox County. School Principal Becky Ashe said she’s gotten a total of 18 applicants from students in Campbell County, Jefferson County, Sevier County, Loudon County, Maryville, and Seymour. The issue is which county will pay for the students to attend the STEM school. Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said “this is the first time we have a school board from another community who is willing to enter into an agreement with us and pay for their students to go to the L&N STEM Academy.”
The new regional students will attend orientation with their classmates August 8 and start as students at L&N STEM Academy on August 11.