DANVERS — For Cassandra DiNardo, an introduction to engineering class at Danvers High School changed her entire career plan.
"I'm pursuing engineering when I never thought I'd be," DiNardo, a senior at the school, told Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito during a student panel Thursday.
Polito was in town to announce a $150,000 skills grant for Danvers High to expand its STEM offerings through Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit that designs science, technology, engineering and math curricula for school systems. On Thursday, she visited Project Lead the Way classrooms and talked to students about their experiences.
In the fall, Danvers High will start offering programs in business and finances, environmental and life sciences, health care and social assistance, information technology, and manufacturing. For students, it means more hands-on classes or real-life experiences that could steer them toward a specific career.
“You are the only school in all the Commonwealth that has all five (innovation pathways),” said Polito, adding that Danvers High is a model for other schools. “What’s great about your school is that there are so many programs coming together.”
In a robotics classroom, students Coady Barnes and Max Rudin demonstrated their award-winning robot, which they programmed to sort marbles of different compositions. The pair recently won a Mass STEM Hub industry challenge.
Barnes and Rudin were able to program their machine piece by piece, similar to professional engineers.
“The industry was very impressed by that,” said Paul Vecchione, a physics and engineering teacher at Danvers High.
In a biomedical science classroom, Polito heard how students investigated the fictitious death of Anna Garcia, including examinations of her various health issues.
“It’s completely project-based learning,” said biomedical science teacher Peter DiMauro.
Polito traveled from lab table to lab table, learning about each student’s projects and what they enjoy about their class.
Freshman Lilly Criscuolo said that she enjoyed filling out career journals. The journals require students to outline a career related to a specific unit, focusing on responsibilities, salary, and local colleges or universities that have programs.
“It related back to the real world," Criscuolo said. "In our position we are eventually going to have to decide what we want to do.”
Polito also met with students about the school's #WhyYouMatter campaign, which included photographs of nearly every student, teacher and administrator holding statements about why they matter. Polito related the project to the state’s RESPECTfully public awareness campaign, which focuses on defining healthy friendships and romantic relationships.
Staff writer Ethan Forman contributed to this report.