Middletown District Showcases K-12 Programs at Annual Community Event

By Cara Ding
Cara Ding
Cara Ding
Cara is an Orange County, New York-based Epoch Times reporter. She can be reached at cara.ding@epochtimes.com
May 22, 2023Updated: May 24, 2023

Thousands of residents got to see Middletown School District programs at an annual community event at the local high school on May 19.

Occupying three floors of the school building, student-organized exhibits and interactive sessions covered topics in the arts, engineering, biomedicine, coding, and the humanities.

“This is the most exciting time of the year because [our students] really get to just roll up their sleeves, show what they’ve learned over the course of the year, and demonstrate all their talent, gifts, and ideas,” Middletown High School executive principal Lynnette Williams told The Epoch Times.

“Everything is student-centered, student-inspired, and student-run,” she said.

Artworks of all grades were displayed along with a popular face-painting workshop on one floor, while civil engineering projects, robotics, and coding programs occupied the lower level.

On the third floor, biomedical program students were busy demonstrating how to stop bleeding, dissect a sheep’s heart, and perform a simulated surgical procedure.

Epoch Times Photo
Residents gather around the art sections during the annual community event at Middletown High School in Middletown, N.Y., on May 19, 2023. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

Middletown High School STEM instructional leader Norval Connell told The Epoch Times that the various programs were designed to prepare students for the 21st-century economy.

He highlighted the high school academies, which are like “small colleges within the district” that allow students to earn college credits in dedicated academic tracks.

More than a thousand high schoolers enroll in the information technology academy, and 500 or so are in the biomedical program, according to Connell.

Parmveer Singh, a senior in the biomedical track, just got a dual college acceptance that comes with three years at Mount Saint Mary College and four years at a local medical school.

Singh told The Epoch Times that he got interested in biomedicine when attending a similar community event as an eighth grader and enrolled right after entering high school.

He thanked the program for keeping him focused on the career track during his high school years.

Epoch Times Photo
A student demonstrates different parts of a piglet during the annual community event at Middletown High School in Middletown, N.Y., on May 19, 2023. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

Last year, the graduating class valedictorian left with 75 college credits and went on to attend Harvard University, Williams said.

Currently, more than half of district high schoolers earn three or more college credits, according to Connell.

He added that it had long been a district goal to increase the percentage of high school students earning college credits, and one way to do that was to expose younger students to these programs through community events such as this.

Jessica Torres, a parent with three daughters attending the district, told The Epoch Times that she was delighted to see the variety of programs available at the schools.

Torres graduated from the district more than 20 years ago.

Epoch Times Photo
Jessica Torres with her daughters during the annual community event at Middletown High School in Middletown, N.Y., on May 19, 2023. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

“It is completely different than how it looked before. Everything is more attuned to what’s happening now,” Torres said. “It is very interesting to see what they’re supplying the kids now.”

Her daughter who’s in middle school said she liked the science programs on display.

Connell said the district also had expanded some of the programs into lower schools, such as a new coding program for girls at the Presidential Park Elementary School.

“The beautiful thing is that our superintendent and central office realized that for these programs to be successful, we must make sure that students in the middle and elementary schools started to taste what they were like,” he said.

The elementary coding program started in 2022 with 30 slots and is expected to double enrollment this year because of high demand, according to a district teacher.