Five Wichita schools get new names to reflect STEM emphasis

Five Wichita schools will debut new names as they promote their programs at the Wichita school district’s Choices Fair on Thursday.

“We’re adding ‘science’ to our name and integrating science and technology into our program,” said Bettina Banks, principal at Buckner Performing Arts and Science Magnet Elementary. “Our kids will still get dance, music, art and drama, but with an increased focus on the science behind it.

“We think it will really enhance our program and our school.”

In September, five Wichita schools were awarded a three-year, $12 million federal grant aimed at expanding programs and reducing minority isolation in schools with substantial proportions of minority students. The district plans to establish or enhance career exploration and STEM programs – which stands for science, technology, engineering and math – at the schools.

As part of the changes, Buckner and four other schools have new names. The others are L’Ouverture Career Explorations and Technology Magnet Elementary, Spaght Science and Communications Magnet Elementary, Brooks Center for STEM and Arts Magnet Middle School and Jardine STEM and Career Explorations Academy.

School district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said the five schools will be grouped together at the Choices Fair.

The fair, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Century II Exhibition Hall, is an annual event where families can gather information about magnet schools, neighborhood schools and the wide range of special programs offered by the Wichita district. The event is free.

The district offers technology, foreign language, fine arts and traditional magnet schools, among others. It also has alternative high schools, career development schools, Northeast Magnet High School and East High’s International Baccalaureate program, an internationally accredited college-preparatory curriculum.

The most popular schools typically have waiting lists. Open slots are filled by lottery.

Parents can get application forms online at the district’s website – – or at any magnet school. Forms also can be picked up at the magnet admissions office in the Alvin Morris Administrative Center, 201 N. Water.

The deadline to apply for most Wichita magnet schools is Feb. 14. Visitation days for most schools will be Monday through Feb. 7.

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