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J.T. Alton receives monetary gift for engineering program

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By Kelly Cantrall

J.T. Alton Middle School in Vine Grove is one step closer to launching a new science and math program.

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Science Applications International Corp. announced a gift of $23,800 to J.T. Alton on Thursday in the school’s library. The money will help start a Project Lead the Way program, an engineering curriculum for middle and high school students.

SAIC is a scientific, engineering and technology applications company, and it gave a $27,000 grant to North Hardin High School in 2010 for the same program.

J.T. Alton received some funding for teacher training for the program, but organizers soon realized they would need more to purchase necessary technology and equipment, Principal Jama Bennett said. This gift allows the school to buy resources and enable it to start in the spring. A full rollout of the program is expected in the 2013-14 school year.

Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston said it’s the district’s responsibility to give students an opportunity to be successful in the future, and the PLTW program assists in that mission.

“We’re going to be able to give our students a leg up,” she said.

The program gives students hands-on experience with engineering, science and math. They can continue the courses once they move to North Hardin.

“Their gift is changing the future for our students,” she said.

Jim Holt, SAIC vice president and manager of information and data systems, said the foundation for being a competitive company starts at the local level.

The United States has begun to slip in these areas compared to other countries, and SAIC officials want to do what they can to reverse the trend, Holt said.

It’s also “an investment in the local community that we and our employees are a part of,” he said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.