A dedication to STEM at Palisades Park
Palisades Park Elementary, one of two new schools opened in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools this year, was formally dedicated at an event Sept. 23. The school, in the South Learning Community, was designed and built with $16.9 million in money from the 2007 bond referendum.

The academic focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is incorporated into the design of the 39-classroom, 85,000-square-foot school, the first elementary school in the district with a STEM focus. (The John M. Morehead STEM Academy is a K-8 school.) Plexiglas windows have been set into some walls so that students can see the school’s infrastructure such as technology, pipes and mechanical/electrical functions. Television monitors throughout the school display graphs showing water, power and gas consumption, as well as a weather forecast. The school also has many walls with IdeaPaint, which makes walls whiteboards, and 10 iPads per classroom.

“Palisades Park shows the future of elementary education facilities,” said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent of CMS. “The emphasis on STEM everywhere provides an exciting academic environment for students, and the school-wide displays of energy and resource consumption will help our students become good stewards of the environment.”

The school also has a laser die-cut compass rose in the foyer and representations of DNA strands on the floor in the science lab.

“Our students are getting terrific exposure to STEM concepts and learning at Palisades Park,” said Principal Gina O’Hare. “We partnered with Discovery Place Education Center during the summer so staff could receive training in STEM concepts. As they provide instruction in class, the wall displays and the floor inlays support the intensive STEM curriculum in a visible way.”

Palisades Park opened this year with 695 students. The school relieves overcrowding at Winget Park Elementary. Palisades Park also partnered with the county Park and Recreation department for a playground, pavilion and walking trail at the back of the campus.