A letter from Valley Catholic Middle School Principal Dr. Jennifer Gfroerer

Jen with students

Dear VCMS Families,

Celebrating the Success of Valley Catholic Middle School’s STEM Program

Valley Catholic Middle School provides multiple opportunities for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) integration and inclusion within the established program. VCMS teachers frequently integrate STEM learning experiences within the curriculum. Our students have opportunities within classrooms to work collaboratively and build STEM experiences, but also have STEM options after school. 

Valley Catholic Middle School’s STEM program remains grounded in established programs that have set the standard of achievement at VCMS. The fruition of the work during the past two years is evident in the four academic pillars: research guide, writing guide, presentation guide, and product guide, as well as within the grade-level cross-curricular projects. 

While these areas are only sometimes the first to come to mind with STEM, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and character-building are critical skills that prepare students to handle new and complex problems. These skills are embedded across the curriculum.

One of the key assessments of the STEM program is the seventh-grade students’ participation in the Future Cities competition. Like all of the STEM projects, most of the students’ core subjects teach elements of the content within each discipline that are then synthesized and applied to a specific project within the STEM course. Within the STEM course, two teachers work with the students to help them refine their research, writing, presentation, and product skills as they apply to each STEM project. The results of this partnership are evident in the success of our students at both the regional and national levels, as shown:

Future Cities Awards and Honors

Regional Competition

Students attend the regional competition, where they communicated their ideas and solutions to a panel of judges, including many engineering and other technical fields. The regional competition has an average of 30 teams from Oregon and Washington.

  • At the 2018 competition (the first year VCMS participated), VCMS placed 5th overall and won the Best Overall Score for a First-Year School award.
  • 2019 VCMS won the regional competition.
  • 2020 VCMS won the regional competition.
  • 2022 VCMS won the regional competition, and teams won the following awards: NCEES Best Land Surveying Practices, Most Entertaining Presentation, and Best Overall City Essay.
  • 2023 VCMS earned fourth in the regional competition and won Best Project Plan
  • 2024 VCMS earned second place in the regional competition and won the ASCE Best Visualize of Smart Sustainable City and Best Use of Scale.

National Competition

One team from the Washington Region is selected to compete in the National Competition in Washington, D.C. VCMS students can travel to Washington D.C. to communicate their ideas and solutions to a panel of judges, including many engineering and other technical fields. 

  • In 2019, VCMS competed in the Nationals Competition in Washington D.C.
  • In 2020, VCMS competed in the Nationals Competition in Washington D.C.
  • In 2022, VCMS competed in the Nationals Competition in Washington D.C.

Dr. Jennifer Gfroerer