HPSD full "STEAM" ahead with new 6th grade school

HPSD full "STEAM" ahead with new 6th grade school
HPSD students in class
A rough breakdown of numbers of students in the district
A rough breakdown of numbers of students in the district
Science engineering rating index
Science engineering rating index

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Public School District will have a new school, only for sixth-graders beginning in August.

"The school board voted to support us moving forward with the steam school for our sixth graders, that's science, technologies, engineering art and math," said Hattiesburg Public School District Superintendent James Bacchus.

In a 4 to 1 vote, the school was approved and will now focus on teaching the STEAM program.

"We want to make sure we have more students ready to take advanced courses in science and math and also we want to continue the enrichment piece we are providing in arts for all of our students," said Bacchus.

Sixth-graders from the districts six elementary schools will attend classes at Lillie Burney Elementary, and the Pre-K through fifth grade students going to nearby schools around the district.

Every school will be touched, as far as the current rising sixth graders, which are our current fifth graders now will go to the new steam school," said Bacchus.

Lillie Burney, the new sixth-grade academy is suitable to hold around 500 students, but the first class through is less than 400.

"We estimate about 370 initially, the school will accommodate up to 500, so we do have some classes larger than the other ones," said Bacchus.

The new school will add an additional two teachers as well as some start up materials geared to the STEAM program, totaling around $288,000 according to Bacchus.

"We are excited about the opportunity, families are, you know most people don't like change, that's the only thing about it is the change," said Bacchus.

With Mississippi ranking last in the United States in science engineering rating, educators are hopeful this program will expand a list of career options for student's futures.

"We want our students to be in a position where they can make choices, and getting to high school before you are exposed to a high level science class limits the opportunity to make those choices," said Bacchus.

Bacchus wants what is best for students in the long run and to give them the best shot at a promising future.

"There are a lot of opportunities for our students, and we want to make sure they are in a position to be ready for these opportunities," said Bacchus.

The district already has a task force in place, as well as plans for the summer where times will be available for students to meet their teachers and get a glimpse into the program.