Carlisle High School received a $700,000 grant Tuesday from the Department of Defense to reinforce the opportunities offered by its advanced placement courses in math, science and English.

The grant was in recognition of the support the school gives to the children of military families assigned to Carlisle Barracks and the Army War College.

“Each year, Carlisle Area School District goes above and beyond in support of the educational transitions of our military family members,” said Kristy Cormier, school liaison officer for the post.

The War College draws about 385 senior military leaders, their spouses and children to Carlisle for a 10-month graduate-level course in strategic studies. This includes International Fellows from countries friendly to the U.S.

Carlisle was selected as one of the national recipients of a grant arranged through the National Math + Science Initiative and the College Readiness Program of the Military Families Mission.

The three-year $700,000 grant will benefit all the Carlisle High School students who commit themselves to AP courses in the three subject areas, said Marcus Lingenfelter, senior vice president for advance payment with NMSI.

He said most of the money will be used to train teachers how to reach students who just need some extra help to take on the academic rigor of AP courses.

The training consists of professional development classes offered during the summer, Lingenfelter said. He said three workshops for each AP course are offered during the academic year where the students along with their teachers learn tailored lessons delivered by a trainer.

Nationwide only the top 5 percent of high school juniors and seniors enroll in AP courses, according to Lingenfelter. One goal of NMSI is to expand the opportunity into a deeper pool of students interested in pursuing a career in STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

AP English courses are included because competency in reading and writing is the core of any discipline, said Lingenfelter, who challenged an audience of over 200 AP students to take advantage of what the grant has to offer Carlisle High School.

“You are the fuel to drive the engine,” he told students. “The country needs you. You’re the generation that’s going to step foot on Mars. Silicon Valley needs you to invent the next big thing. None of this happens without a very select group of people who have the ability to transform lives and make our future possible.”

Research has shown a direct connection between enhanced achievement in math and science and in providing greater resources and support to classroom teachers, Lingenfelter said. He added part of the grant will be used to purchase supplies and technology for teachers to improve hands-on instruction.

For the next three years, Carlisle students will receive $100 for each AP exam they take in math, science or English, Lingenfelter said. “This money is going to you in recognition of your hard work and achievement.”

Becca Winton, a junior enrolled in AP English and AP Biology, said the grant is wonderful because it helps students who normally could not afford to take the exam. “It encourages me to take a lot more AP courses.”

“Now we have options we didn’t have before,” said Caleb Richwine, a junior taking AP Calculus and AP Statistics. “It’s really generous and great that they are doing this.”

Over the years senior Jeff Estes has seen the district put a lot of money into athletics. He called the $700,000 grant a significant amount of money to invest in academic achievement with long-term benefits.

“It all makes sense,” Estes said. “They need qualified students starting in high school.”

STEM is the future of workforce development, said Bob DeSousa, state director for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. “There are jobs in the market that are screaming for people that have STEM,” he told students. “Keep on that path and your future is very bright.”

James Breckinridge, provost of the Army War College, compared the current push in science and technology to the space race of the 1960s when the U.S. was reaching for the moon.

“I congratulate you on your energy and commitment to what is absolutely important to the future of this nation,” Breckinridge told the Carlisle AP students.

Acting Superintendent Christina Spielbauer thanked the War College, Carlisle Barracks and the NMSI. “Without their support, we would not be able to provide this amazing opportunity for all of you,” she told the students.

Carlisle High School is one of 1,200 NMSI program sites developed across 34 states over the past 10 years, Lingenfelter said. The groundwork for the local program started about two years ago when NMSI approached the school district, Carlisle Barracks and the school liaison officer.

While Tuesday was the official presentation of the $700,000 grant, money from that donation has already been used to fund training sessions this summer, workshops during the first few months and the first-year round of supplies and equipment purchases.

The grant will continue through the rest of 2017-18 and into 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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