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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Bioscience park to see addition of high school

Kyle Mittan/Arizona Daily Wildcat The UA Bioscience Park is currently under development on a 65-acre piece of land at 36th Street and Kino Parkway. Administrators are now several years into a process that aims to build a high school within the park focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The UA’s research parks continue to grow in employment numbers and company collaboration, and administrators are now in the process of adding a high school to their next development.

Esteem High School is in an early planning stage, and will end up somewhere within the 65-acre Arizona Bioscience Park with a student body of 400 to 800 students. The park is currently under development on a large piece of land at the corner of Kino Parkway and 36th Street.

The school, whose name is an acronym for “Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Mathematics,” will function as an institution focusing on education specifically in those areas, according to Bruce Wright, the associate vice president of University Research Parks. Wright added that the idea behind the high school is to continue administrators’ efforts to expand the life and biosciences industries in Southern Arizona.

While the school will focus on teaching the sciences, writing and literature courses will also be offered in order to meet state mandates, which require that students receive a well-rounded education in order to earn a diploma, according to Molly Gilbert, the director of community engagement. There are no plans to offer sports or athletics at the school, but students would be able to participate in sports at other local high schools.

The decision to build the school came after an analysis by the Flinn Foundation in Phoenix and other national institutes specializing in technology and enterprise. Wright added that a similar, nationwide study by the National Academy of Sciences also suggested that the U.S. was beginning to “fall behind” in those particular areas.

“The whole intent of what we’re trying to do is to create a high school with a unique curriculum and program that excites young people about science,” Wright said. “It’s not just directed at the best students, it’s directed at all students to say, ‘There are great careers and opportunities in these fields.’”

Involvement with local institutions, including the UA, has been under discussion from the beginning, with some college deans, people from Pima Community College, Tucson Unified School District and residents in neighboring communities being asked to provide feedback on curriculum and even the design of the building itself, according to Gilbert. Doing so, she added, would provide students with a variety of options after going through the program, including the possibility of getting a job to help pay for higher education.

“If they know they want to pursue and go on and get a college degree, then they’re well-prepared to do that and go into the university system,” Gilbert said. “Then there are those that are going to graduate with the skills and be able to support themselves as they go through school.”

With the project still in its early planning stages, administrators haven’t completely determined where funding for the high school will come from, but said they hope that some national foundations that fund science initiatives will offer grants. More questions regarding the high school’s funding, curriculum and design will see answers by the upcoming spring.

While a mascot still has yet to be determined, Wright indicated that his team has already considered one possibility.

“The school’s mascot might be the double helix,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t know.”

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