STEM Academy receives grant

Published 2:38 pm Friday, May 17, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Cawaco Resource, Conservation and Development Council with state Sen. Cam Ward and state Rep. April Weaver presented $9,800 to the STEM Academy at LeCroy Career Technical Center on May 17.

Teacher Jay LeCroy said the grant funds will be used to add robotics opportunities for middle school students and Chilton County schools that are K-12 through enrichment classes as well as upgrading the robotic equipment the high school students at LeCroy are using.

“This equipment is about 13 years old,” LeCroy said of the high school robots. “… This all became legacy and obsolete like last year.”

Some newer equipment has been purchased but more is needed to accommodate the 80 students in the program.

“If you take into consideration the computer and the robots, you are looking at about $1,000 a student to stand the program up,” LeCroy said.

Drayton Cosby of Cawaco RC&D thanked the legislators for the partnership of including the organization in the state budget to enable them to “put the dollars back into the community.”

“We are one of the few places that organizations can go to locally to get funding,” Cosby said.

Projects come to the Council directly or from legislators as possibilities for funding. Cosby said the area of focus for funding changes from time to time but is usually pretty broad in what can be funded.

“With the demand increasing so much for these skill sets that they teach here, we are playing catch up,” Ward said.

He said additional funding is needed to ensure students can fill the high demand for those with engineering and technology skills.

Ward said additional funds have been designated in the next fiscal budget for Cawaco.

“Hopefully, we can continue to fund projects like this,” Ward said.

Weaver said it was good to see projects being funded that will bring a “great benefit” to students and communities.

“We really appreciate our partnership with RC&D,” Weaver said. “It’s always great to be able to work together for a project.”

Weaver said she enjoys seeing the results of such projects.

Cosby and Weaver said grants such as this one help teachers do extra projects that add creativity to the classroom and help better prepare students for the next level.

LeCroy gave the group a tour of the Academy’s facilities highlighting some of the many projects classes have completed over the past school year.