The opening of the Cherry Creek School District’s Institute of Science & Technology was a dream come true, and a dream that continues, for hundreds of students, parents, educators, business leaders, elected officials and community members, who attended a ribbon-cutting celebration on Aug. 17.
“We want you to dream the impossible and give you the tools to make those dreams come true,” said Richard Charles, Director of STEM Education for Cherry Creek Schools, to the current and future students in the crowd.
The Institute, located at 12500 E. Jewell Avenue in Aurora, is part of the Overland High School-Prairie Middle School campus. It will serve Overland and Prairie students through a rich and rigorous curriculum in STEM; science, technology, engineering and math. Careers in those fields are in high demand and require a high level of education.
“Too often we try to educate the children of today for the jobs of tomorrow with the facilities of yesterday,” said Colorado Lt. Governor Joseph Garcia, who called the state-of-the-art Institute “critical to the success of our students and our economy.”
The school was designed by Hutton Architecture Studio and built by Saunders Construction with science in mind. Approved by Cherry Creek voters in 2008, the $18 million, 58,000 square foot facility features lines of latitude and longitude on the floors, galaxies of stars on the ceilings, and windows that represent Fibonacci’s sequence.
“I like it,” said OHS freshman Destiny Brittain. “It will allow me to take more advanced classes and get more hands-on experience.”
“It’s fantastic! If I’d had something like this when I was in high school I might have enjoyed science more,” said Ruth Miller, one of several senior citizens who attended the opening. She was pleased to see her tax dollars at work in the building. “The schools are one of the most important things we can invest in.”
“I’m very excited to have such an advanced facility in our area,” said Phil Faulkner, who brought his four-year-old daughter Claire, and six-year-old daughter Anne, to the opening. “If there’s one thing my older daughter does, it’s ask questions incessantly! To have a place like this that encourages asking questions is great!”
In fact, sparking students’ curiosity and igniting their imagination is as much a part of the Institute’s purpose as is preparing them for future careers in STEM fields. Board of Education President Jennifer Churchfield summed it up this way: “Congratulations to all the students who get to experience the pure joy of learning in a place like this for years to come!”