CHIPLEY — The Washington County School Board heard a report from STEM students on their engineering experiences with the FDOT during Monday’s meeting in Chipley.
Four Chipley High School students — Ben Bridges, Richard Davenport, Olivia Saunders and Nick Butler, took part in a STEM Camp during the summer, which allowed them to intern for a week with the Florida Department of Transportation office in Chipley.
Vernon High School student Sarah Boullard also participated in the summer camp, but she was not present for the board meeting.
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And STEM fields are the professional and academic disciplines that fall under the STEM acronym.
The students were involved in all aspects of the Department of Transportation, from road design to bridge inspection to right-of-way acquisition.
“A whole lot goes into designing a road,” Davenport said.
The STEM Camp was part of a program sponsored by the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, and these included the 2013 Summer Challenges, a week-long Immersion into STEM experience at the University of Florida, and Field Site/Workplace experiences, such as the one the Chipley and Vernon students participated in at the DOT.
Students from Washington, Holmes, Jackson and Calhoun Counties also participated in the event.
“The challenge is trying to do this in a broader sense,” Board President Terry Ellis said. “A lot of students don’t get to have these experiences to inspire them, and the challenge is to put something in place to make sure we not only can keep this program, but we can offer it to more kids.”
Ellis said the district also appreciates the work of the PAEC and the DOT for hosting the program.
In other business, Technology and Information Services Coordinator Sandra Coppedge thanked the board for its support and asked that a workshop be scheduled to discuss hiring a data clerk for the department.
“I just want you to know I appreciate the support of the board, and we have been working really hard now to bring our department into the 21st Century,” Coppedge said. “We have had people from other districts ask to visit and see our IT department, so the word is getting out that we are doing something good here.”
The board set a workshop for 3 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, to discuss the data clerk position.
Resident Veronica Jones asked the board to consider repealing a five-day out of school suspension which was levied on her grandson and another student following an altercation at the Chipley High School. Jones handed out copies of a video of the incident to the school board members, and said her grandson was attacked.
“He is a senior, and next semester he is in dual enrollment, so that should help with the situation,” Jones said. “But something needs to be done. You have gang activity at that school, and if you don’t get a hold of it things are going to get out of hand.”