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A record number of Halifax County Schools students have been accepted into the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Step Up to STEM program, which aims to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

This is a significant achievement for these students, the school system said, as the program is highly competitive and only accepts a limited number of applicants yearly. 

The Step Up to STEM program allows students to explore and learn about STEM fields in a supportive environment. 

Students receive hands-on experience with various STEM-related activities, such as robotics, coding, and engineering projects. In addition, they have access to mentors who are professionals in their respective fields, allowing them to gain insights and guidance.

“I am thrilled to see many talented and dedicated students accepted into the Step Up to STEM program,” Superintendent Eric Cunningham said. “This program provides a unique opportunity for students to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. I believe that they will thrive in this dynamic and challenging environment. I look forward to seeing the great things that these students will accomplish in the future." 

Cunningham said the program is also beneficial for the Halifax County Schools district as a whole, as it helps to address the shortage of skilled workers in STEM-related fields. “By providing students with the necessary skills and knowledge, the program is helping to prepare them for future careers in these high-demand workplace occupations. This, in turn, will benefit the local economy by increasing the number of skilled workers available to fill the growing number of STEM-related jobs in this area. This is another benefit of attending HCS.”

To be considered for the program, students had to meet specific eligibility requirements and demonstrate an interest in STEM-related fields. They also had to submit an application that included essays and letters of recommendation.

“We are thrilled to work with Halifax County Schools to help them meet the academic needs of their students. We are incredibly grateful for the commitment of the community and families of the students, along with the leadership of Dr. Cunningham and the HCS teachers and administrators, to allow their students to participate in a high-quality academic experience like Step Up To STEM," said Jamie Lathan, vice chancellor for extended learning for the North Carolina School of Science and Math.

One of the critical components of the Step Up to STEM program is the mentorship aspect. Mentors are professionals in STEM fields who guide and support students throughout the program. 

This allows students to learn from those who have already succeeded in their respective fields and gain valuable insights into what it takes to succeed in these STEM-related careers. 

The program also provides students opportunities to explore various STEM fields and discover which ones they are most interested in. 

This allows them to make informed decisions about their future careers and to pursue the fields that they are most passionate about.

There are 18 Halifax County students participating in the program, and this is the most number of students participating in the region. 

The following students have been accepted into the program. 

Halifax students attending Cohort 1 — rising ninth graders — of Step Up to STEM at Elizabeth City State University are: Kelvin Broady, Chassidy Daniels, Shaniya Gundy, Elissa Pierce, Jasmine Poole, Zequavious Richardson, Aaliyah Silver, Ja’Leiya Smith, Jamiya Smith, Jimmy Ward, Santia Whitaker, DeZyer Williams, Marquez Willimas. 

Halifax students attending Cohort 2 — rising 10th graders — of STEP Up to STEM at Elizabeth City State University are: Sha’Niya Britt, Kayla Clark, Jeffery Mills, Jr., Aiyanna Richardson, Marquese Wilkins.

“Overall, the Step Up to STEM program is a valuable resource for Halifax County Schools students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” the school system said. “By providing them with hands-on experience, mentorship, and exposure to various STEM fields, the program is helping to prepare them for future success.”