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Rise STEM scholars greeted with cheers on Day 1

The Rise STEM Academy for Girls opened the 2021-22 school year with fanfare as students returned Aug. 2 for in-person classes. Women from various career fields, staffers from the University of Kentucky, mentors from the YMCA’s Black Achievers program, and cheerleaders from Frederick Douglass High School lined the sidewalk to welcome the young scholars with applause and encouragement. 

“It was amazing. We want these little girls to see they’re growing up in a world where they can be anything. If they can dream it, they can become it,” said Teena Oaken of Wehr Constructors Inc. Dr. Jessica Kress, a dentist who hosts youngsters who want to see how her office operates, also participated at Oaken's invitation. “I love being a mentor and being a connection,” said Kress, a Lexington native with 7-year-old twins. "I'm super excited to be involved in this community and see what comes of this Rise STEM Academy." 

The STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) magnet program, which launched last fall with remote instruction amid COVID-19 precautions, is growing one level per year through eighth grade. It now has 197 girls in grades K-3. Program Director Jennifer Jacobs and Administrative Dean Jessica Greene wanted this Day 1 to be extra special. “It’s an opportunity to say ‘We believe in you. We know you can do this.’ It’s giving them that warm hug as we start this school year,” Jacobs said. “For our scholars to see women in the community as leaders in the STEM fields, that is the vision of our school – to (develop) leaders who can create positive change in the world.”

Jacobs also hosted new Superintendent Demetrus Liggins, who toured the former Linlee Elementary building and stopped by several classrooms. Many of the scholars and their families had already visited at orientation a few days earlier. “It felt more like a traditional start,” Jacobs said. “It was a great opportunity for families to see the inside of our building, meet their classroom teacher, drop off school supplies, and spend time in the outdoor classroom for ‘Popsicles with PTA.’ We’re looking for even more opportunities to engage families so they feel welcome.” 

(Posted Aug. 2, 2021) 

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