Community can learn about plans for STEAM middle school at upcoming open houses

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The Lawrence school district will host two open house events for community members to learn more about its planned STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — themed middle school. 

Beginning next year, Liberty Memorial Central Middle School will be focused on STEAM.

Members of the district’s Middle School Redesign Committee reported to the board on Sept. 26 that the majority of student respondents in a district survey said they were most interested in STEAM-based careers. The Lawrence school board voted on Dec. 11 to approve the change.

The school will be available to all students in sixth through eighth grades who reside within the LMCMS boundaries as well as any students in those grades, both within the district and outside of district boundaries, who deem the curriculum and instruction at LMCMS best for their learning needs.

The open houses are scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 6 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at LMCMS, 1400 Massachusetts St. They’re free to attend and open to the public.

More about STEAM at LMCMS

The school’s curriculum can be broken down into three sections. “Core time” is a block of time that incorporates learning English language arts, math, social studies and science standards; “inquiry” is teacher-facilitated and student-driven, so teachers will act as guides to help students solve problems; and “elective opportunities” will also be available.

During their classes, students will be able to explore career paths such as a pilot, meteorologist, NASA engineer, graphic designer and several others.

Students at the STEAM school will also have fine arts requirements. Sixth graders will take two-week introductions to band, choir, orchestra, art and theater, then select one of those focus areas. They’ll then continue with that focus area through seventh and eighth grades.

The school will still offer extracurricular athletics.

As long as preferred schools have availability, Chief Academic Officer Patrick Kelly previously said, current LMCMS students who are not interested in attending the themed school will be able to transfer under the district’s open transfer policy. He predicted LMCMS will have the capacity to accept any students interested in attending next year.


The district’s middle school boundaries were facing potential changes to accommodate for the STEAM school. But after several meetings, the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee decided on Feb. 7 to recommend the district keep its current boundaries next year, pushing boundary changes out a year.

Committee members said community feedback suggested they should minimize change, specifically for those feeling negative impacts from Broken Arrow and Pinckney elementary school closures, and they agreed they didn’t want to rush their process. The BAC’s recommendation has not yet come before the school board for a vote.

If middle school boundaries are kept the same, returning LMCMS students would still be able to choose to stay at the STEAM school or transfer to another school. Enrollment is heavier at West and Southwest middle schools, so if a student not interested in the STEAM school applied to either of the two and didn’t get a spot, they would go to Billy Mills Middle School.

If the school board decides to change boundaries, however, those new boundaries would dictate where LMCMS students would transfer.

The district has created a form to request transfers for middle and high school students. That’s available at this link.

Visit for more information about STEAM at LMCMS.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Kaw Valley Almanac for April 22-28, 2024

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