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Mylan Park Elementary students steer into STEM in Charleston

Code me home, country roads.

Students from Mylan Park Elementary were among a select group in Charleston on Monday.

They joined their counterparts from seven other schools across the state for “Country Roads Codes Day at the Capitol,” a computer and robotics event designed to showcase their skills in those arenas.

Students did basic coding for lawmakers in town for interim meetings before next month’s gaveling in of the 2024 Legislative session.

Coding — in, say, the world of your great-grandparents — is the high-tech equivalent of a circus performer in the center ring, with a lion, a chair and a whip.

In a smartphone world, coding is what makes that app do what you want it to.

The day in the state capital also demonstrates a renewed focus in career technical education in West Virginia in recent years — as students coming out of high school opt for other avenues than a four-year college to get them a viable wage in the workforce quicker.

That’s particularly in the fields related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Monongalia County’s school district is steering into that direction in big ways, with its planned Renaissance Academy, a stand-alone STEM high school it wants to have open by 2027.

If the school can get built — Mon’s existing technical education center would be reconfigured to offer specialized courses geared to middle school students.

Call it practical pathways to that paycheck, Gay Stewart, director of WVU’s Center for Excellence in STEM Education, said previously.

“There are currently 814 open computing jobs with an average salary of $75,109 in West Virginia alone and not all require a college degree,” the director reported last summer.

“These jobs are the number-one source of new wages in the U.S., driving job growth, economic prosperity and innovation.”

Meanwhile, that focus in tech continues throughout this coming summer at WVU, which is hosting the Governor’s Computer Science Institute in June and two sessions of the Governor’s STEM Institute in July.

Those gatherings are part the 2024 Governor’s Schools lineup, which gives participants the experience of living on a college campus while delving into advanced studies in arts, literacy and culture — along with STEM.

College professors teach the courses.

Applications to the honors schools are being accepted now. Visit the state Department of Education website at for more information and to apply.

 The schools date back to 1984, when then-Gov. Jay Rockefeller fronted an academic activity to keep students engaged over the summer.

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