Miami-Dade County Public School System Prepares Video Game Magnate School

Miami-Dade County, Florida public schools are preparing to launch the first-of-its-kind magnate school that focuses on video games this fall, according to the Miami Herald. Dubbed the iTech Academy at Miami Springs Senior High, students will be able to learn how to design and program video games. Educators backing the school believe that this special program will teach students how to better solve problems and also prepare them to work in the technology and gaming industries. The focus on design and coding is to push state and national efforts to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

"We’re going to be a school that produces not only games, but apps. It’s part of my vision," Principal Anna Rodriguez told the Herald. "I can see our students building holograms. I can really see it."

While students may like the idea of attending a school about developing video games, teachers understand that parents may have a hard time understanding why the whole thing is a good idea.

"When students say, 'I’ve decided where I want to go to high school and it’s a computer-game design program,' parents look at them like, 'Yeah, right. I’m going to let you go to high school for gaming,'" admits Kathy Freriks, lead teacher for another new computer game design and animation high school in Hillsborough County. "The parents don’t understand the high-tech level the kids get into. They hear the word 'game' and they get turned off."

Her pitch to concerned parents lets them know that such a school teaches an array of important subjects like animation, programming, computer design, and database skills. Likewise, educators in Miami-Dade point out that their school will better prepare students who want to build video games for a living a better chance of realizing their dreams when they seek further education down the road.

In 2010-11 the state had right around 3,300 students enrolled in courses related to games, simulations and animation. A handful of Miami-Dade instructors already teach gaming-related courses at schools including Homestead Senior High and Northwestern in Liberty City.

Students who want to enroll in the program can do so at (or call 305-885-3585). Availability is limited and there are some requirements that students will have to meet to be eligible including a 2.5 GPA in core subjects, a 2.5 average in conduct, no more than 10 unexcused absences or tardies for the previous year, a completed algebra I and physical science for ninth-graders. If you are a not a Miami-Dade student, you will need to submit a copy of your report card.

The Miami Herald offers more background on the program in this news article.

Source: Miami Herald

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