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Cobalt Institute of Math & Science named PLTW Distinguished School for third time

VICTORVILLE, Calif. ( — Cobalt Institute of Math & Science (CIMS) has been recognized as a 2022-23 Project Lead The Way Distinguished School, earning the honor for the third time.

CIMS is one of 212 schools across the U.S. to receive this honor for providing broad access to transformative learning experiences for students through PLTW Gateway. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at schools across the country.

“It sets us apart from other schools in the area,” said CIMS teacher Amanda Ballard, who chairs the school’s PLTW program. “PLTW is a great program that prepares our students for actual industry work and for college classes in these fields. It’s very project based and hands-on. It’s a great opportunity for these students.”

(Cobalt Institute of Math & Science senior Luis Zuniga, left, discusses biology concepts with freshman Alyssa Hamilton, right. CIMS, a science-focused grade 7-12 school, was recently named a Project Lead the Way Distinguished School.)

CIMS, a grade 7-12 school in the Victor Valley Union High School District, offers pathways in engineering, biomedical engineering and computer science — making it one of just a handful of schools in Southern California to offer all three pathways. 

To be eligible for the Distinguished School designation, the school had to meet a variety of criteria including having more than half the student body participating in the program and ensuring equitable access to students. 

“This award is a testament to the hard work of our staff in providing excellent STEM pathway opportunities to our students,” Principal Clarissa McNally said. “The knowledge and experience our students are gaining with hands-on activities will pay dividends for years to come.”  

In addition to two previous PLTW Distinguished School awards and seven awards for its PLTW Junior High Gateway program, CIMS has previously been named a California Distinguished School and has earned one of the highest rankings in the High Desert in the U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools list. CIMS has also won a California Pivotal Practice Award and a Golden Bell award from the California School Boards Association. 

“We are extremely proud to see CIMS attain yet another accolade,” VVUHSD Superintendent Carl Coles said. “STEM education is more important than ever, and the implementation of the PLTW program by the CIMS staff has been outstanding.”  

(Cobalt Institute of Math & Science freshmen Lexly Lizama, right, and Aniya Aldredge, left, work on a biology activity where they are examining cells under a microscope. CIMS, a science-focused grade 7-12 school, was recently named a Project Lead the Way Distinguished School.)

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