"The program prepares our students to go onto STEM careers, STEM fields in college and the industry," said Kevin Kanauss, supervisor of secondary science and engineering, who conceived the idea for the academy. "It basically just gets our students prepared."
Deptford is using curriculum developed by Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit that promotes STEM education and has partnered with 4,700 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Universities such as Drexel offer credit for Project Lead the Way courses.
Locally, Williamstown High School and Burlington County Institute of Technology already use the curriculum.
During the last two months, Deptford High School teachers learned the material at Rowan University, Kanauss said.
On Thursday, the school held an opening ceremony for the academy. Among the guests was Rep. Robert Andrews (D., First District), who said investing in STEM education was necessary to compete in today's globalized economy.
"I cannot think of a better way to prepare our country for success in that competition than this initiative that Deptford Township is taking," he said.
Perry Abney, whose 13-year-old daughter, Nayla, is enrolling in the program, said the academy was a "great opportunity for my daughter, specifically being a female, an African American."
He noted that the program comes at no cost and said it "gives your child the opportunity you hope for yourself as you're growing up."
Vincent Ferrera's 14-year-old daughter, Samantha, also will be in the academy. He found it appealing because it offered a "structured program" that would "expose her to things she normally wouldn't get in high school."
Contact Andrew Seidman at 856-779-3846, email@example.com, or @AndrewSeidman on Twitter.