MEDFORD, Ore. -- St. Mary's school is getting a whole new look with the addition of nine science classrooms, a spacious cafeteria, and a college-style dormitory for international students. It's a nearly $10 million expansion that will provide kids education with an emphasis on science, or STEM (science, tech, engineering and math).
The school says it decided to take on the projects after rising admission meant the school was outgrowing its classrooms.
"We were really crammed in the spaces that we had, and not to mention the spaces that we had weren't conducive to what current science labs are and what the teachers needed," said Bethany Brown, St. Mary's director of advancement. "It was all fixed stations where they were really confined to what the room could provide for them. "Everything is movable in the classrooms. It can be configured to whatever the teacher needs for their labs."
The school received a $115 thousand grant to deck out its classrooms with the latest and greatest technology. Kids can play with 3D printers, a hydraulic press, engineer robots and more.
The expansion also means more offerings to students. New classes include titles like Women in STEM Careers, Black Gold: Crude Basics As To How We Got Here Today, Paleobiology, and Natural Disasters and more.
The new cafeteria will feature local foods and three meals a day to cater to the school's growing international influence. This year, St. Mary's will gain 70 international students, 54 of them will stay in the new dormitory, which is in its own building beside the classrooms. Before this major addition, international students stayed in SOU dorms in Ashland.
"We've had this program for quite some time and have been lucky enough to utilize housing options at SOU," said Brown. "But to bring those students here to be part of the campus is going to be a big game-changer for them to really integrate into the St. Mary's experience."
The new area will be open to students at the start of the school year but construction will continue on the courtyard for the first month of school.