Hillsboro Middle/High School has received national certification for its Project Lead The Way program that has been offered since 2013. PLTW, a nonprofit organization and the nation?s leading provider of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs, offers a rigorous curriculum that allows students to apply what they are learning in math and science class to real-life activities, projects and problems. PLTW also prides itself on high-quality professional development of its teachers and an engaged network of business, community and university partners to give students the fullest experience. The national PLTW recognition program distinguishes schools for successfully demonstrating a commitment to PLTW?s national standards. Additionally, certification as a PLTW school provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit or receive college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities when they successfully complete select PLTW courses in high school. PLTW has more than 50 college, university and research partners, including Wichita State University in Kansas. In order to remain competitive in the global economy, America needs about 400,000 STEM college graduates annually, according to a National Business Round?table report. Currently, the U.S. is graduating only 265,000 annually. PLTW provides students with the skills, foundation and proven path to college and career success in STEM areas to increase the number of STEM graduates. ?We?ve seen how the PLTW program draws more students to engineering, math and science and gets them thinking about college and their careers,? said Max Heinrichs, principal of Hills?boro Middle/High School. ?We are extremely proud to be PLTW certified and ecstatic that our students are eligible for college-level recognition, which may include college credit, scholarships and admissions preference.? As part of the recognition process, Heinrichs and a team comprised of teachers, staff, students and members of the community submitted a self-assessment of the school?s implementation of PLTW?s engineering program. A site visit by a PLTW trained team followed. The team met with teachers, school administrators, counselors, students and members of the school?s partnership team. A PLTW school?s partnership team?sometimes referred to as an advisory council?is comprised of teachers, counselors, administrators, post-secondary representatives, business and industry professionals and other community members who actively support the PLTW program within a school. ?Hillsboro Middle/High School should be congratulated for demonstrating once again its commitment to PLTW?s quality standards,? said Vince Bertram, PLTW president and CEO. ?The real winners here, however, are USD 410?s students,? he added. ?Students benefit from PLTW?s innovative, project-based curriculum that encourages creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. We look forward to many more years of working together to prepare USD 410?s students for the global economy.? Lance Sawyer, high school math instructor, said, ?The beauty of PLTW courses is that our kids get to experience how a concept they learned in math and science applies to real-world projects, including robotics. ?Rather than sit passively and listen to a lecture, our students are building, developing and creating. It?s the kind of hands-on experience that will engage more students in science, technology, engineering and math?fields that they might otherwise never have considered.?