Several dignitaries including State Senator Chris Widener and Mayor Warren Copeland gathered on the campus of Clark State University Monday afternoon for a ribbon cutting ceremony. The event formally opened Springfield's Global Impact STEM Academy.
Widener called the academy the first of it's kind in the nation that will allow students to study while also gaining hands on experience in the agricultural bio-sciences field. After thanking Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin for helping provide a temporary location for the school, but Widener also talked about a permanent future site.
"We're on to a permanent location at Springfield South to revitalize that end of Springfield and that very historic and very worthwhile structure. And as we cut this ribbon remember I believe it's just the start of something that's going to be multi-location and very large for the state of Ohio and the future of our workforce," he said.
The Academy will open its doors on Wednesday and native Springfielder Melanie Wilt can't wait. She grew up in 4-H and runs an agricultural communications business in Clark County. Wilt says that many baby boomers have steered clear of getting into the ag-science field but with food production predicted to grow, she believes that students at the Academy will have jobs waiting for them.
"Food production is expected to double by 2050 and that's going to put us in a challenging place. But I know with a curriculum like this and problem solving, we'll be able to cover that void," she said.
Academy Director Josh Jennings says the school will deliver a unique educational experience for students.
"In approximately 1,370 days from now, the Global Impact Stem Academy will conduct its first commencement ceremony and those graduates will have experienced what few high school students get to experience," he said.
Companies like Bob Evans and Battelle, plus the Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio State University have partnered with the Academy, which originally planned to open with an enrollment of close to 200 students, but officials confirm they will have less than 75 students on the first day of class.