WALTON COUNTY, GA – Last week, a Walton County high school senior was named the first Walton County STEM Student of the Year. This award and scholarship is a gift from Dr. Elmer Swartzmeyer, a supporter of Walton County Public Schools academics programs. In the past, Swartzmeyer has awarded STEM Teacher of the Year Scholarships. On May 16, 2019, Celeste Cannon, director of Secondary Curriculum for the Walton County School System, was on hand to give this inaugural STEM student award to Kevin Pietruszka of Loganville High School. The award includes a $1000.00 scholarship to the school of his choice.
The STEM Scholarship Awards were developed and awarded by Dr. Elmer Swartzmeyer, a supporter of Walton County’s STEM programs. Swartzmeyer, an Air Force veteran, built missiles for Bell Aircraft in the 50s. He then went on to earn a PhD in computer information systems from Georgia State University. Now retired, he has made it part of his personal mission to better local academic programs, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. He has become a patron of academics of sorts for local students and was featured in a recent article in Walton Living Magazine.
“Unfortunately most people confuse education with entertainment. When they think of schools, they think of football as a measure of what makes a good school,” Swartzmeyer told Walton Living Magazine.
The purpose of this scholarship award, according to its mission statement, “is to recognize and promote the outstanding application of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines by a Walton County High School senior. STEM is defined as Science (any discipline), Technology, Engineering and Mathematics that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory project/problem-based learning, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions that demonstrate business and industrial use of STEM subjects.”
A STEM student interested in entering for the award can do so by submitting a written narrative documenting their use and understanding of the STEM subjects, with back up recommendations from school officials. The recipient of the award is then chosen by a three-person panel.