College & Careers

Ladoga ups the ante for preparedness

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LADOGA — Ladoga Elementary will become the ninth school in Indiana to participate in the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center Design and Innovation Studio partnership with Purdue University and STEM Education Works.

Through the partnership, the technological studio will be added to existed STEM Lab space in the home of the Canners, Southmont Director of Curriculum Anna Roth said.

“We are thrilled to bring this opportunity to our students and our families,” she said. “This grant provides equipment, installation, professional development, curriculum and ongoing support to sustain success.”

IN-MaC, Purdue and STEM are partnering to invest in schools throughout Indiana with their Design and Innovation Studios, which offer education in industry through hands-on experience in manufacturing, robotics, coding, engineering and science.

Ladoga Principal Sonna Schafer said the grant matched by the corporation for $20,000 promises unique opportunities for students who may look to the booming trade industry for their future careers.

And encouraging the concept at the elementary level will support college-and-career-readiness programs in junior and senior high.

“Every one of our kids will eat this up,” she said. “And we can partner with manufacturers and businesses and stuff, and hopefully expand that.”

The incoming studio will be added to lab space which already houses unique STEM programs and equipment for the Canners.

“They will be coming out to design and build the room for us,” Schafer said. “There’s this huge list of really cool things.

“That’s a big deal for us, to be able to offer that, and to hopefully open that up to the community at some point and let them come in and see what we’re doing and see what we’re teaching their kids,” she added. “That’s going to help with school of choice, so there’s connected community. Right off the bat, we’re want Walnut and New Market students to be able to come and use it for some after-school clubs that we’re going to start as soon as it opens.”

Skilled workers and critical thinking are concepts listed in school improvement plans created by principals Kevin Wilkinson and Jesse Burgess at the middle and high schools, respectively.

Members of the school board have also expressed support for the studio.

“Making sure students know that, whether it’s a trade or whatever they do, they’re going to still be learning,” Board President Brad Monts said. “It’s not about going to college; whatever you’re going to do, you are going to have to go beyond high school (education). I think that’s the key. They have so many opportunities, and with trades, (employers) cannot get help. They are so far behind in finding people that are available to work. They have the work; they just can’t find them.”

Walnut Elementary Principal Eric Brewer also looks forward to sending his students to Ladoga to take advantage of the district-wide opportunity.

“That’s what keeps our community alive and well, and growing and bringing people to our community,” he said. “It allows us to expand our resources and make better lives. We live in a great place, but we want it to be even better for our kids. We want them to stay here and have that opportunity.”

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