OLCHS Receives National Recognition for Commitment to Empowering Students


OLCHS announced today that it has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW Engineering. It is one of just 143 high schools across the U.S. to receive this honor.  PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of PreK-12 students and teachers in over 12,200 schools across the U.S.

Principal Dr. Jeana Lietz said, “there are many things to be proud of about our school, but Project Lead the Way has impacted our Oak Lawn students in immeasurable ways.  It has opened the world of engineering to diverse students, and given all students the chance to engage in project based-learning like nothing else in our school.” 

The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, OLCHS had to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer and had students enrolled in at least three PLTW courses;
  • Had 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses;
  • Had 95 percent of students take the End-of-Course (EoC) assessments;
  • Had strategies and procedures in place that support reasonably proportional representation with regard to race, ethnicity, poverty, gender and can support such claims with relevant data.

Dr. Lietz added, “the PLTW distinguished program recognition is a recognition of the hard work of our students and staff, including PLTW teacher Dan Kenny and College and Career Counselor Kelly Kenny.”

“Our students are learning to challenge themselves while building and creating, but not without risk.  This course encourages our students to take those challenges, not knowing the outcome, or teaching them to analyze what they have learned and how to face setbacks,” said Mr. Kenny.

Through PLTW programs, students develop STEM knowledge as well as in-demand, transportable skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take. PLTW Engineering empowers high school students to step into the role of an engineer and adopt a problem-solving mindset. Students engage in collaborative, real-life activities like working with a client to design a home, programming electronic devices or robotic arms, and exploring algae as a biofuel source.

“It is a great honor to recognize Oak Lawn Community High School for their commitment to providing students with an excellent educational experience,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, President and CEO of PLTW. “They should be very proud of their work to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”

“I just can’t wait to see what these kids will come up with next.  And the best thing is the dedication of the students. They are hooked,” said Mr. Kenny.  “This year we added our newest course, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and now our students are able to take four years of PLTW.  The kids actually voted and helped pick the next level they were interested in and asked me to keep offering courses.”

OLCHS is part of a community of PreK-12 schools, colleges and universities, and corporate and philanthropic partners across the country united around a passion for providing students with inspiring, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities. For more information about PLTW’s recognition program, visit pltw.org/our-programs/program-recognition.

For more information on the OLCHS PLTW program or to set up a school visit, contact College and Career Counselor Kelly Kenny at 708-424-5200.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a mission-driven organization that is transforming the learning experience for millions of PreK-12 students and thousands of teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. Approximately 12,200 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit pltw.org.

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