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Annual STEM breakfast honors local students, offers inspiration

By: DeAnne LeBlanc


Eighteen St. Charles County students were honored for their achievements at the recent Partners for Progress STEM Breakfast.

Eighteen St. Charles County students were honored for their achievements at the recent Partners for Progress STEM Breakfast.

At the Partners for Progress annual STEM Breakfast, GM-Wentzville plant manager and STEM expert Nancy Laubenthal offered a keynote address that was meant to inspire the students in the audience. Her goal: to encourage the 18 students being honored to continue making a difference in their community and in the world as they continue their journey with STEM in the future.

The annual STEM Breakfast honors outstanding high school students for their achievements in science, technology, engineering and math [STEM]. Partners for Progress President and CEO  Greg Prestemon, Partners for Progress Education Chair Randy Schilling, and student Hannah Martin from Assumption School also were featured speakers at the event.

The students honored at the event were:

• Sarah Darnell, Living Word Christian

• Brittany Kraft, Duchesne High

• James Clemens, Fort Zumwalt East

• Matt Urbeck, Fort Zumwalt North

• Marcus Forrest, Fort Zumwalt South

• Tyler Hoffmann, Fort Zumwalt West

• Brenden Bratsch, Francis Howell Central

• Elise Kaminski, Francis Howell High

• Jacob Beckmann, Francis Howell North

• Brianna Farrell, Lewis & Clark Career Center

• Andrew Sides, Lutheran St. Charles

• Shelby Beasley, Orchard Farm

• Matthew Reidenback, St. Charles High

• Alexander Lu, St. Charles West

• Keenan Bross, St. Dominic High

• Rajon Scott, Wentzville Holt

• Cameron Graham, Wentzville Liberty

• Alicia Alexander, Wentzville Timberland

Laubenthal has been the GM-Wentzville plant manager for the past three years. She spoke about her rise to leadership in the company and the growth of General Motors. The company is the largest employer in St. Charles county.

Soon, it will require millions of lines of code to make car parts move, Laubenthal predicted. Missouri will need to fill 143,000 STEM jobs by 2018, she said, and it is predicted that 60 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education by 2018.

“It is a systemic issue,” Laubenthal said.

Interest in STEM-related subjects drops dramatically as children age. By high school, 40 percent  of the students who once showed an interest in STEM have lost the spark that drew them to it when they were young, Laubenthal said.

“Keeping middle school students interested in STEM before they reach ninth grade dramatically influences future choices, especially in girls,” she noted.

At the breakfast, Partners for Progress announced its first tech challenge middle school grant. The organization is offering $1,000 grants for St. Charles County schools [grades 6-8] in the 2016-2017 academic year. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 2, 2016. A Lego Robotics Kit was donated on behalf of each of the STEM award winners, to their respective elementary schools.

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