Next year, there will be no Starship Academy in the Iberville Parish School system. The School Board has approved a name change to the Iberville STEM Academy, or ISA.
The emphasis will remain basically the same, with its emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, Superintendent Arthur Joffrion, Ed.D. said.
This school year, the school has an enrollment of about 75, he continued, but would like to see an increase to 100 in the upcoming year. Many proposed changes have already been approved by the board and others will be considered at the board’s May meeting.
“We are revamping a lot of things,” Joffrion said. “We’re doing to be asking the board to do some other things that have not been approved yet by board members, so I cannot release that information yet.”
“Since the program started, we have wanted it to be a small school and we still do,” Joffrion said, but the board has approved some minor changes on his recommendation to attract more students. “…We don’t want it to be extremely large but we would like to see 100 to 150 students in the program.”
“We want to make the curriculum stronger with to concentrate study in the four primary fields and we’re doing that through a strong partnership with LSU,” he continued.
“Our focus is to strengthen the curriculum to create a more rigorous on science electives, including robotics, hydroponics and Project Lead the Way, the engineering component,” Joffrion said.
The change in academic focus at the STEM academy will lead to a slight change in the focus of MSA-West. “MSA will continue to focus on math, science and arts and with ISA, there will be less emphasis on math and science and more on the arts.”
Enrollment in the newly reorganized ISA will afford college bound students more opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school, the superintendent said.
“The ultimate goal of the ISA is that students, in essence,, will be able to graduate with up to 38 credits from LSU,” Joffrion said. “That would give them their first full year of college credits with extra hours.”
The opportunity would not only be good for students but for parents as well, he said, because then TOPS scholarships would only need to pay for two years of undergraduate work and allow parents to use the rest of that funding for two years in a master’s program.
“The student who graduates from ISA could finish with those 38 hours of college credit and 18 advanced placement hours, whereas at the MSAs, we’ll still have that focus on the arts,” the Joffrion said.
“For your students who want to be in the orchestra or in drama or in theater or music, the MSAs will still have all those programs,” he said.
Joffrion and the School Board hope the changes will “get our most academically strong students to participate in the ISA because of the rigor of the program it will have.”
Students will be selected for the ISA program the same way they are for the MSA schools in the parish, the superintendent said, continuing by saying he does not expect the enrollment of the MSAs to suffer by the loss of a few students because enrollment at both of them are strong.
Preparing students for their future is a primary goal of the changes to what will next year be Iberville ISA, Joffrion said.
“One of the things we know need to focus on science and technology, engineering and math, because that’s where the jobs that are still going exist will be,” he said. “So we want to use the ISA in a way to help prepare them for future jobs by saturating their content, their four years of high school and we will start as early as the sixth grade with those higher standards.”
The school at the north end of the parish, which begins accepting students in the fifth grade and up, is partnered with Plaquemine High School or White Castle High for those students who want to participate in organized is that more and more, students team sports, Joffrion said.