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MC STEM school energizes at Nela Park

An unused four-story building on GE's Nela Park campus in East Cleveland sprang back to life Monday as a pioneering public high school.

MC STEM High School, operated by the Cleveland district, is preparing 82 ninth-graders for the key career fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The school opened last summer and held classes in the downtown Great Lakes Science Center until the GE space was renovated with $4 million from foundations and business groups.

The state gave $600,000 to help start MC and a companion Cleveland industrial design school. Gov. Ted Strickland is scheduled to drop by Nela Park on Feb. 20 to check on the investment.

STEM techniques teach critical thinking and other skills that rank high on Strickland's new education agenda. The Cleveland schools are the first in a wave of STEM initiatives that the governor hopes to continue, spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.

MC STEM will add a grade in each of the next three school years. Tenth-graders will attend classes in another yet-to-be-announced corporate setting. Juniors will study somewhere downtown and work internships. Seniors will take courses at Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University.

Students go to school from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, alternating 10-week sessions with three-week breaks. The year-round schedule mimics work to some degree but leaves no time for sports and many other extracurricular activities.

Nela Park, headquarters for GE's $6.6 billion-a-year lighting and industrial unit, gives students the flavor of both business and higher education. The renovated building feels like an office and laboratory facility. And the campus, with its grand structures, grassy commons and brick walkways, resembles a stately college.

Dozens of employees are eager to mentor students, said Andrea Timan, manager of volunteer programs. Students will shadow workers to learn what's expected on the job....