InTech Collegiate High School announced last week the school will be expanding to seventh and eighth grades and will therefore be renamed as InTech Collegiate Academy.

This expansion has been anticipated since 2015, when the Cache County School Board, InTech’s charter authorizing unit, approved an amendment to InTech’s charter agreement to allow higher enrollment.

As one of nine charter schools across the state with roots in the same legislation, InTech serves Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties and is the first of its kind to expand to lower grades.

“There is this gap where in the middle school, the students believe that math really isn’t for them, and we would really like to get more students at a younger age to consider careers in STEM fields,” said Jason Stanger, InTech’s executive director/principal.“We believe that if we capture their interest earlier, we will be able to hold onto them. If they check out from math and science, it is easy to fall behind and become disinterested.”

The current facility can hold up to 200 students. As of Oct. 1, InTech’s enrollment count is 158 students, meaning that with this expansion to seventh and eighth grades, some facility or campus expansions might be in the future.

“It is a great place if you are really nerdy or just feel out of place at a regular high school,” said Nathan White, a 10th grader at InTech. “I would have been interested in coming when I was younger if that had been an option back then.”

Stanger, who has been at InTech for 12 years, said the school will remain small and will still utilize a lottery system to manage enrollment, but the original plan for InTech was to have 300 students, so there is room for growth.

“The small school feel is a big reason students and parents of students gravitate to us,” Stanger said. “There is a strong sense of community, and pair that with the rigorous curriculum and STEM focus, we have a lot to offer the community.”

The transition will begin with eighth grade, and if there is enough interest, the expansion will continue with seventh grade. After sending out some polls into the community, JaDean Frehner, InTech’s administrative assistant/registrar, said there is enough interest to make these plans a reality.

“It is really helpful to be able to get a jump-start in your education,” said Frehner. “This school can help students who want to get away from big schools where it is easy to get lost.”

As a student at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, Augusta Scott, now a student at Utah State University, said she was exposed to experiences that were unmatched in public schools.

The SLCSE, while slightly different than InTech, offers similar opportunities for furthering STEM education and offers enrollment for grades 6th through 12th.

When I started there in 6th grade, I didn’t have much scientific knowledge, but by the end of that very first year, I was conducting my own research project,” Scott said. “I gained so much confidence and experience, and I hope expanding InTech will give those students more of an opportunity to fall in love with STEM subjects like I did.”

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