Last spring, a group of 4-year-old students at Valley Catholic Early Learning School excitedly gathered around as St. Mary of Oregon Sisters Delores Adelman and Patricia Lulay shared packets of seeds for the new plants the sisters would plant near the school.

The planting and interaction with the sisters offered the youngest of Valley Catholic Valiants the opportunity to learn about nature and a chance to connect with the sisters. The sisters’ values infuse Valley Catholic, Oregon’s only Catholic school serving children and young adults from infancy through high school. Valley Catholic early learning, elementary and middle schools highlight the schools’ focus on science and STEM education as they host their open house and provide opportunities for prospective families to visit campus.

Melissa Doxtator is new principal of Valley Catholic Elementary School, but she is not new on campus. She attended Valley Catholic from elementary school through high school.

One of the new initiatives for the elementary school is assessing its science curriculum.

“We are applying for a grant to enhance our STEM night and turn it into something where students can show a real-world application of science topics they have learned,” said Doxtator.

At Valley Catholic Middle School, Principal Jennifer Gfroerer, another Valley Catholic alumna, has made STEM education a top priority. Last year the middle school became the first in the Pacific Northwest to earn STEM certification from AdvancED. The STEM program places a strong emphasis on hands-on learning. One of the STEM activities, Future City, tasked students with building a city with a resilient power grid. Students from the middle school went on to participate in the Future City national competition. On Jan. 31, the middle school will be hosting the regional Think Future STEM Institute, which is an opportunity for educators and community partners to learn about the latest innovations in STEM education.

From the littlest Valley Catholic Valiant to the seniors in high school, the Valley Catholic campus is focused on honoring deeply rooted traditions as it prepares students for the careers of the future.