In the 2016-2017 school year, Maryknoll High School is launching an in-depth, full-time STEM and Aerospace program for 90 students. The program — which is the first of its kind in Hawaii, according to Director of Communications Keenan Kurihara — will be filled from a carefully-screened pool of freshman and sophomore applicants.
During the course of the program, participants will still be integrated with some classes and school-wide activities with the rest of the student body, but will also benefit from courses with a specialized focus on science, technology, engineering, math and aerospace. In addition to access to mentors and internships in those fields, they can even become certified with an FAA private pilot’s license.
"We’ll have students who will learn to fly before they learn to drive," Kurihara said.
The STEM & Aerospace program is just the initial entry in the Mx Scholar series, which is designed to give students access to hands-on training and allow them to graduate with highly marketable skills. In the next few years, the school plans to follow with biomedical and international diplomacy programs.
"The rate at which traditional education is adapting to the level of skills needed for the workforce isn’t fast enough,” Kurihara said. “We’re trying to narrow that gap."
"We decided to launch these programs with STEM & Aerospace because we felt that it would give these students a leg up in an ever-changing economic landscape," he added. "STEM jobs are projected to grow 17% by 2018, which is double what’s expected for those in non-STEM fields."
This strong focus on technology in the classroom is nothing new for the staff and students at Maryknoll. At the school, individual laptops have been a requirement for students for about a decade, and there’s an increasing emphasis on digital content.
"We’re not quite to the point of a complete digital transition," Kurihara said. "It all comes down to a personal preference — print still has a value as well, but things are definitely changing. Maryknoll is leading the pack in Hawaii in shifting with the educational landscape and making sure our students are prepared."