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August 11, 2017
As the 2017-18 school year begins in Polk County, there is a heightened sense of new energy and opportunity at two schools in particular.
In Lakeland, the former Combee Elementary has made its official debut as the Combee Academy of Design and Engineering (CODE), a new magnet school serving grades K-5. On the other side of the county, Lake Alfred-Addair Middle has undergone a similar transformation to become Lake Alfred Polytech Academy, for students in grades 5-8.
These latest additions to the magnet school options in Polk County Public Schools reflect our nation’s growing demand for STEM (science, technology engineering and math) education.
At Combee Academy, the new learning opportunities include a mini fabrication lab that allows students to test their imagination and creativity with equipment such as a 3D printer and full spectrum laser cutter, as well as coding and robotics technology.
The school also features a well-stocked science lab, and an outdoor classroom with a chicken coop and budding garden.
Principal Tammy Farrens says innovation runs throughout Combee Academy.
“Our students will be able to do more project-based, hands-on learning through integrated STEM units,” she said. “I think it increases student engagement, and helps them realize and make connections to the real world – the ‘why’ in learning.”
At Lake Alfred Polytech, students will enjoy hands-on experiences in the school’s fabrication and engineering lab, while delving into a curriculum that explores coding, programming and new technologies.
Principal Julie Grice said Lake Alfred Polytech will also play a role in developing the next generation of leaders in Polk County.
“We’re integrating service projects into our curriculum – that’s going to be a big focus as well,” she said. “It’s about providing opportunities for our students to be leaders on our campus, and in our community.”
Combee Academy and Lake Alfred Polytech will help further prepare students for postsecondary education, as well as the demands of tomorrow’s economy, said Carolyn Bridges, Senior Director of the school district’s Office of Acceleration and Innovation.
The new magnet schools also address specific needs of Polk County families, she said.
“By opening Combee Academy in that part of Lakeland, we’re able to serve more students and parents closer to their homes, offering them exciting technology and a rigorous academic curriculum,” Bridges said.
“With Lake Alfred Polytech, there hasn’t been that option in the Winter Haven area before. We have a great arts program at Jewett School of the Arts and an International Baccalaureate (IB) middle school at Jewett Middle Academy, so now to round out the options we’ve made sure they have a really strong, STEM-focused magnet school with Lake Alfred Polytech.”
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