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New program seeks STEM recruits

OCEANSIDE — A new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program at Lincoln Middle School is part of an aggressive campaign to engage students interested in STEM academics.

Principal Steve Bessant said the new school, California Street Academy for Science and Engineering (CSASE) is for incoming freshmen, but will be housed at the middle school. One reason, he said, is to provide a more intimate learning environment and create a pathway from the middle school’s STEM curriculum to the high school level.

Currently, 20 students are registered for the program, but the Oceanside Unified School District must have at least 60 total for the program to begin. The deadline for registration is June 15.

The deadline is one reason the district is actively recruiting any North County student interested in learning computer programming and cyber security.

“The reason we selected those is because the job field is wide open,” Bessant said. “We are offering a small school environment with just a few teachers and the high-tech focus.”

Lincoln is also a Project Lead the Way school, as is Palmquist Elementary School across the street, which incorporates STEM and project-based learning through the Makerspace Program. Enrolling in those schools allows students to have STEM throughout their time in in the Oceanside Unified School District.

Students, though, will be affiliated with one of the two high schools (Oceanside or El Camino), and allowed to participate in sports or extracurricular activities. However, students will not be allowed to take, for example, a music class at Oceanside High School and then return to Lincoln.

Still, the benefits are plenty, said Lisa Contreras, the district’s director of communications. The school offers a computer science elective, where eighth-grade students are programming games for apps.

But recruiting students is the main focus, although Oceanside students do have priority.

“We’ve opened it up to all schools in the region,” Bessant said. “We have spoken to every eighth-grader in the district and are reaching out to parents. There is no extra money to carry it for a year.”

The incoming students will also enroll in core classes such as English, but extensive curriculum in STEM, with coding instruction, will allow for students to eventually receive certificates and be employable.

“I’ve always enjoyed science and mathematics,” said eighth-grader Andrea Ortiz, who has registered for the program. “When we found out about this program, it was something new and the things they were offering seemed like something I was interested in.”

Also joining are eighth-graders Moira Galvez and Keniadaly Beltran, who said the opportunities will help with attaining college credit and pursuing a career in technology.

Keniadaly said she struggles with computers, but this program will develop her skills, while Moira said she can pursue a career in the medical or engineering fields.

To register for the program, contact Bessant at (760) 901-8900 or by email at