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Mrs. Stephanie Pirani’s homeroom class at Oak Grove Central Elementary School in Hernando attended the announcement of the STEM grant. Adults, from left, are Michael McClendon, Sandra Teague, Pete Martinez, and Stacey Pirtle.

Eight schools in Mississippi got an unexpected surprise from PhRMA, a biopharmaceutical research company. Oak Grove Central Elementary School (OGCES) of Hernando was one of the eight selected for an unrestricted STEM grant.

Mississippi Senator-elect Michael McLendon joined Pete Martinez, deputy vice president of state advocacy of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), at OGCES to announce the $2,500 STEM Pipeline education grant to support the school’s initiative for STEM curriculum.

“Both of my sons, Dr. Hunter McLendon and Sadler McLendon, attended OGCES from 2001-2005,” said McClendon. “My wife Vickey and I knew that they were getting the best education Mississippi had to offer. The faculty taught with enthusiasm and administrators had the proper tools to prepare them for today’s workforce. Principal Stacey Pirtle and her staff continue to uphold the tradition that Oak Grove Central Elementary parents have come to expect.”

According to PhRMA, teaching STEM in elementary grades opens the door for teachers and students to become tomorrow’s innovators. They stated that children provided with a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will go on to play an integral role in the nation’s global competitiveness and economic stability.

“Every day we work with researchers and innovators who were attracted to the STEM field at a young age,” said Martinez. “PhRMA is proud to support the students at Oak Grove Central Elementary to cultivate the next generation of innovators through STEM education.”

Sandra Teague runs the OGCES science lab for 4th and 5th grade students. The grant will be used in her classroom.

Katherine Nelson is Communications Director for DeSoto County Schools.

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