New West Valley school equips students with future job skills

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WEST VALLEY CITY — Leaders in the Granite School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday for a new type of school that is educating students for jobs of the future. State leaders hope parents, especially the parents of girls, will emphasize this focus on education.

Neil Armstrong Academy is a STEM school, focused on science, technology, engineering and math, with a lot of on hands-on learning.

"It's fun to do experiments because science is my favorite subject and that's why I decided to come here," said fifth-grader Ellie DeGroote.

The school's architecture adds to the unique environment. Constructors used geothermal fields for the temperature needs of the school, and allow children to learn about geothermal activity and heating and cooling during their classes.

"We definitely have a lot of hands-on activities so that you get involved with what we're learning," said sixth-grader Megan Hammond.

Utah researchers predict Utah will have more than 100,000 STEM-related jobs within the next five years, creating a need for students to get the kind of education that will make them qualified applicants.

"We're training students right now for jobs that probably don't even exist yet," Principal Tyler Howe said.

The Department of Commerce estimated that women hold fewer than 25 percent of the jobs in STEM fields. So educators hope parents will guide their daughters to pursue classes that many typically avoid.

"As a parent that's what I would want for my children most of all is to enjoy learning because if they enjoy it they're going to continue doing it throughout their lives," said Gayleen Gandy, Granite School Board of Education president.

Neil Armstrong Academy is a new type of public school — not a charter or a private school. Of the 600 students who attend, half come from outside school boundaries through open enrollment.


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