GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 15, 2013

GHS lauded for biotech 'innovation'

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — A program that funds biotechnology education programs has chosen Gloucester High School, one of many schools that has benefited from the company’s grants, as its Innovative School of the Year, citing the high school’s approach in creating programs and partnerships that allow students to connect with biotechnology business.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation first selected Gloucester High School for funding in 2009, and has watched the school “successfully utilize” that grant money while involving students at all academic levels, over the years.

“Gloucester High School has done a remarkable job fostering STEM education and encouraging students to pursue careers in biotechnology as they look toward their futures,” MassBioEd Executive Director Lance Hartford said in a prepared statement.

Two of Gloucester’s 10th-grade students, Morey Ronan and Jason Erwin, will accept the award and speak at a lunchtime award ceremony in Cambridge today about how the biotechnology grants have shaped their education. Gloucester High School biology teacher Eric Leigh, who has taught at the high school for five years and helped garner the grants that initially funded the innovation, will accompany the students.

Gloucester High School has spread the innovation to science classes on various levels, not just advanced placement like many schools, Leigh said.

“We just really want to give all the kids the opportunities to experience it because you never know who’s going to be the next scientist or at least develop an interest in science,” Leigh said.

Gloucester students who participated in the summer Genome Gloucester program studied DNA, the building blocks of life, learning basic skills used in modern biotechnology labs, like how to use a micro-pipette to measure precise amounts of liquid.

“It’s amazing to see how some of the kids who are most skilled at this might not be the most skilled academically, but they are able to use their hands and really get into it,” Leigh said.

This summer, participating students will learn about seafood forensics through a new partnership between the school, Gloucester Education Foundation, and Maritime Gloucester.

“There’s over 100 high schools trained, but we’ve taken it up another notch,” Leigh said. “It’s about using the resources and really trying to bring hands on learning and inquiry-based learning to the kids.”

GHS Principal Eric Anderson thanked the foundation for the honor and credited the success to Leigh and his hard work in bringing the program together.

“This recognition is an important step forward for Gloucester High School, as we work toward our goal of becoming a leader in STEM-related high school education,” Anderson said.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.