Lake Charles-Boston Academy new home for STEM Center

Marlisa Harding

Lake Charles-Boston Academy of Learning is the new home for the Region V STEM Center serving Allen, Beauregard, Cameron, Calcasieu, Jeff Davis and Vernon Parishes. Developed by the Louisiana STEM Network and in partnership with the Calcasieu Parish School Board and McNeese State University, the center is one of nine across Louisiana focused on fostering academic interest in science, technology and engineering and providing a professional development hub for educators.

Mark Arsenault, center director, said the centers were the work of the LaSTEM Advisory Council, enacted by state legislators. “The goals are to collaborate, to communicate and to share resources with all things STEM,”Arsenault said.

Arsenault said the newly created STEM centers will serve as connection points for STEM stakeholders. “We want it to be more cohesive. We want Louisiana to be the place where the nation and the world says, ‘They’re doing STEM right.’ ”

STEM education is not about a specific content, he said. “It’s about the way we teach and the way we help our students think. We want them to think critically. We need to prepare our students for a future that doesn’t even exist yet.”

Karl Bruchhaus, CPSB superintendent, said the center will meet that exact goal as it serves as a site for field trips, professional developments, e-sports and robotics competitions and more. Thursday’s announcement is “just the beginning” and only “the first step” in the region’s K-12 emphasis in STEM.

Tim Hall, McNeese State University Dean of the College of College, Engineering and Mathematics, said the university has had a long and successful history with CPSB. “McNeese is committed to this regional STEM center. We’re committed to coordinating within the LaSTEM with the overall objective to increase student interest and improve STEM education for all.”

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said the housing of the Region V STEM Center at the Lake Charles Boston Academy of Learning will “bring a new generation of students into these historic hallways.” Thursday’s announcement is part of the city’s comeback and recovery story and is worthy of celebration, he said.

“Our comeback story must include a chapter on the steps we’ve taken to retain our brightest and the talent that is here in Southwest Louisiana.”

He added that the City of Lake Charles along with other community partners have already begun to show their support of the center by approving a soon to be installed “living solar system” along the First Avenue walking trail adjacent to the academy.Tim Hall, McNeese Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Mathmatics, speaks during a press conference at the Lake Charles-Boston Academy of Learning Thursday.

Rick Hickman

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