The American Heritage School-Delray Beach, the number-one private school in Palm Beach County for the highest number of National Merit Scholars, is expanding its academic footprint and looking to improve its already high-level commitment to scientific learning.
On April 10, the school hosted the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new $8 million STEM-based building and science program that will promote science research, engineering and robotics.
To add to the prestige of the grand opening, Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” was invited to attend, and he accepted the invitation. The presence of this TV star and noted science expert added some star-power and notoriety to the occasion. In addition to participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Nye delivered the keynote address.
The student body at American Heritage School rolled out the red carpet for “The Science Guy,” whose arrival was marked by hundreds of hand-waving students, many with “Welcome Bill Nye” signs, and a spirited ovation from all those in attendance. In honor of Nye’s trademark bowtie wardrobe, many of the young students were wearing their own Bill Nye-like bowties, which generated a smile and nod of approval from the special guest.
Nye was joined at the grand opening of the new Scientific Research, Engineering, Robotics and Prototyping building by other scientists, industry leaders and dignitaries, including representatives from Florida Atlantic University, the Scripps Research Institute, the City of Boca Raton, the City of Delray Beach, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County and the office of U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch.
The new 12,000-square-foot facility is a scientific utopia that will house an electron microscope, university-level science research labs, robotics and prototyping labs, engineering classrooms, physics classrooms and a pre-engineering program with classes taught daily by top engineers.
This new facility will directly impact the academic lives of the school’s 1,500-plus students.
“Our school strives for excellence and helping students find their passion,” American Heritage School President Dr. Douglas Laurie said. “This new building will be home for generations to the thinkers, creators and dreamers of the future, and may one day provide the spark, inspiration or thought that will change the world for the better.”
It’s fair to say that the American Heritage School is committed to dramatically improving the “knowledge” part of the school’s three-word motto: “Knowledge, Integrity, Compassion.”
“Our goal is to continually innovate and create the best academic facilities in the country in all areas of academics and the arts,” Laurie said. “This is a big step forward in our STEM-based curriculum, and with our new science and prototyping labs comparable to what you would find on college campuses, we look forward to watching our nationally recognized students reach their highest potential as the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
Nye was delighted to attend this event and was impressed by the commitment to scientific excellence by the leadership of American Heritage School. He presided over a unique toast to recognize the groundbreaking moment.
“Normally, we would never drink from a test tube, but we will today,” Nye said. “Here’s to the future. Congratulations everyone. It’s a beautiful day and a beautiful building.”
Nye said that American Heritage School is now poised to be a national cradle of creativity. “Everybody who is going to be the next innovator has to get excited about it in high school,” said Nye, who is also the CEO of the Planetary Society. “That’s why this building is part of the big picture.”
Laurie agreed with Nye’s assessment. “Anything that we can do to spark creativity and imagination and combine that with academics is one of our goals here at American Heritage,” he said.
Right now, American Heritage has nationally ranked programs in robotics, science research and mathematics. At American Heritage, you will also see six banners hanging from the rafters of the Robotic Practice Field that recognize the school’s past achievements in robotics. According to Tai Donovan, American Heritage’s head of robotics, there’s no reason why the school won’t continue the trend of robotics excellence in the immediate and long-term future.
Laurie stressed that the new facility is “giving students a chance to use both sides of their brains.”
“In the words of our esteemed guest, Bill Nye, science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe that, you are holding everyone back,” Laurie said.
During Nye’s remarks, he emphasized that when students attend a school like American Heritage, they will now be able to pursue their dreams and change the world.
Aside from a host of academic success areas, the American Heritage School-Delray Beach has also established itself as a statewide powerhouse in high school athletics, from touchdown-making football players, slam-dunking basketball players, goal-scoring soccer players, and grand-slam hitting baseball and softball players.
The campus at 6200 Linton Blvd. is affiliated with its sister school in Plantation. While the Broward campus dates back to 1965, the Delray Beach campus was established in 1999 with a mission “to graduate students who are prepared in mind, body and spirit to meet the requirements of the colleges of their choice.” To this end, the private school offers a challenging college preparatory curriculum, integrated technology, exceptional guidance, leadership opportunities, and superior programs in the arts and athletics.
In the Lower School, advanced courses are offered in all subjects. In the Upper School, a selection of more than 200 different courses are offered, including 95 honors courses, 22 Advanced Placement courses and 60 fine arts courses.
The 40-acre Delray Beach campus resembles a small college in size and design, from state-of-the-art labs and classrooms to fine arts facilities, an Olympic-sized pool, sports fields and quiet courtyard areas. The school is known in the Wellington area for its strong program catering to equestrian students.
The American Heritage School is located at 6200 Linton Blvd., just east of Jog Road, in Delray Beach. For more information, call (561) 495-7272 or visit www.ahschool.com.