St. John Paul II STEM Academy will open its doors on Aug. 14

In July 2018 the LA archdiocese closed Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank due to low enrollment; it will soon re-open under new name after undergoing extensive overhaul

St. John Paul II STEM Academy at Bellarmine-Jefferson will keep its original historic replica of Independence Hall. (Gloria Rivera/St. John Paul II Stem Academy)

From the outside, the replica of Independence Hall in Burbank will not be changed. 

Yet inside the walls of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School’s campus, an extensive overhaul inside is currently underway, leading up to its reopening as St. John Paul II STEM Academy on Aug. 14 with the arrival of its inaugural freshmen class. 

The transformation includes new engineering and digital media arts labs, a learning commons area, and an updated library using a mix of old and new materials. The STEM Academy — STEM — for science, technology, engineering, and math, is the first Catholic STEM-immersion high school in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. 

“We are excited for ourselves and our son to have the opportunity to be present at the launch of this great school and their new educational STEM model,” said Vivian Sarkisian, parent of an incoming, or “rising” freshman. “We believe the educational model is at the leading edge of education and will provide relevance in the context of our world today.” 

Dr. Jeff Hilger, the founding director of the STEM Academy, jumped full-steam ahead in July 2018 after the archdiocese closed Bellarmine-Jefferson High School due to low enrollment. 

The STEM Academy, which is co-institutional, (co-ed, but girls and boys are in separate classrooms) will offer two tracks: Digital Media Arts and Engineering. The students choose their path in the 10th grade. 

Juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to take classes for college credit, too, through the University of Texas at Austin, Glendale Community College, and Los Angeles City College. The high school will offer four classes each semester with two interdisciplinary labs.

“Students can do three years of math in two years. Teachers are able to give the students more time with this format,” said Hilger. 

The STEM Academy will begin the day with an optional lab at 7:30 a.m in the morning followed by daily Mass. The actual school day will begin at 9 a.m. Another unique feature of the high school is that the students are required to build partnerships in the community by interviewing professionals in the media industry and visiting studios and businesses in Burbank.

An important part of the STEM Academy will be integrating science and faith and instructing students that faith and science do connect, said Hilger.  

“Catholic identity is very important to me. We absolutely do believe that faith and science go hand in hand.”

Full story at Angelus News.

Comments

  1. Do the enrollment numbers indicate the STEM program will overcome the low enrollment problem of the predecessor institution? Will the program include solid instruction in Religion, Languages and other standard subjects? I’d be interested to know why girls and boys are in separate classrooms but the same building. Are lunch hours also segregated?

  2. Anonymous says

    We’ll see. Very hard to keep private religious schools open these days

  3. Lou Varini says

    Aside from daily Mass noted in the article, will there also be a solid grounding in teaching the Faith? Thos aspect is conspicuously absent. Instead, the students will be interviewing business persons.

    Wouldn’t it be better to emphasize Catechics, or is that inconsistent with the priorities of the L.A. Archdiocese?

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