STEM-led drone certification just part of busy summer effort for Port Arthur ISD

Published 12:46 am Saturday, June 24, 2023

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean things have slowed down in Port Arthur Independent School District.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie summed up some of the activities recently beginning with the two-week Brilliance Academy.

The outcome was 77 students and teachers came away licensed to operate drones in the STEM-led action.

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Two individuals, he said, were certified as commercial drone operators.

“It was great to see, 77 of them, and I mean they were in their element,” Porterie said.

Chevron Phillips sponsored the learning.

There are other events going on in the district.

Memorial High School’s new principal Dr. Jeremy Small is in the midst of meet and greets across the district as parents register their children for the upcoming school year.

The district is working on the new direction for Abraham Lincoln Middle School, turning it into a Fine Arts Academy.

The new focus on the arts was unveiled last month.

The 2023-24 school year is marked as a pilot year for the shift to a neighborhood-zoned magnet school. In addition to returning students, it includes students coming in from DeQueen Elementary, Port Acres Elementary and some from Sam Houston and Adams elementaries.

There will be continued focus on STEAM, or science, technology, engineering and math along with the arts.

The reason for the new focus was two-fold, Porterie said.

“The first reason, we understand that data shows that students that are involved in fine arts do better academically,” he said.

But there have been questions by some parents and students.

“We’re trying to find ways in which students will want to come to school and parents will want them to go to school at Abraham Lincoln,” he said, noting some are reluctant to send their children to that neighborhood.

Board members recently approved the purchase of band instruments in order to help the students, he said, and the district is working toward finding a person to teach dance.

In a previous interview with Mollyn Cole, fine arts supervisor, the district is working to make certain students have every opportunity to be expressive, creative and successful.

There will be the same courses as before but courses will be elevated. Instead of just band, there will be multiple disciplines such as marching, jazz, mariachi and orchestra.

The same thought goes into dance; ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and musical theater. And theater will encompass musical theater, technical theater and One Act Play.

This will be the first year for Lincoln to be a fine arts academy, and leaders are working to fill the teaching roles needed.

Trent Johnson will serve as principal of fine arts academy, which is for sixth through eighth grades.