Reynoldsburg City Schools' four high school academies will enter their second school year when students return Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Reynoldsburg City Schools' four high school academies will enter their second school year when students return Wednesday, Aug. 29.

The high school academies are BELL (business, education, leadership and law) and HS2 (health, science and human services) at 6699 E. Livingston Ave.; and Encore (art, communication and design) and eSTEM Academy (environmental, science, technology, engineering and math) at 8579 Summit Road.

The eSTEM Academy opened during the 2010-11 school year, with just ninth- and 10th-grade students; the other three academies opened at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.

Each of the schools has its own leadership, staff and student body, but all are under the "Raider" umbrella when it comes to athletics.

Tina Thomas-Manning, executive director of middle level education, said the four academies now have a year of experience behind them.

"We are excited about expanded partnership opportunities with Mount Carmel Health, Columbus State and BalletMet," she said. "These partnerships will provide our students numerous academic opportunities and professional experiences."

BalletMet uses space at Summit Elementary School and offers dance classes for Reynoldsburg students and for the community.

Marcy Raymond, principal at eSTEM Academy, said internships with district partners and other local companies and organizations will be important for her seniors this year.

"All of our seniors will be doing internships and capstone projects this year," she said.

Raymond was the founding principal at the Metro School and has been nationally recognized as a STEM educator.

Seniors at eSTEM began the school year with a senior retreat at the yurts on Aug. 20. The yurts are circular science classrooms behind eSTEM Academy on Summit Road.

From 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 20, seniors were networking in the yurts, getting to know each other and doing some team-building exercises, but also planning their first design challenge.

"The seniors' first challenge is to help guide the freshmen at eSTEM on what it takes to build a community," Raymond said. "They will look at how to augment individual strengths and talents to build a community and how to act and react to whatever contacts come their way."

Raymond said seniors will help lead freshmen throughout the school year.

She said the senior capstone projects and internships will be in three major areas of concentration, with the first in "energy, economy and environment."

"All of our capstone projects are focused on helping students blend into college coursework and work on scientific problems," she said. "Students will be looking at issues on policy and how it impacts the economy and environmental issues, plus look at energy issues. They could be partnered with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or with the Department of Agriculture, depending on what their focus is."

The second area of concentration for seniors will be "design."

"The design engineering group will work on electrical, mechanical and structural engineering projects, doing a lot of work with robotics, computer engineering and science -- whatever is interesting to each student," Raymond said.

The third concentration will be "logistic informatics."

"Students study system engineering, or how do we make sure information is accurate, accessible and easily understood," she said. "They will look at logistics for product transfer and in the health field, such as how to move a patient from point A to point B. They will also work with a distributorship and might look at how we take an order and how we get that order to customers."

She said students will pick one of the concentrations.

"There are a lot of opportunities for creativity at the Academy," she said. "If a student is really interested in calculus and engineering, he would pick design. Another student might be interested in statistical analysis and optimization methods, so he would pick logistics."

Raymond said organizing student interests into the concentration areas makes it easier for teachers to help them choose internships and take college-level courses with high school instructors, to bridge the gap between high school and college.

She said the seniors will also partner with the STEM middle school students to help them understand the opportunities coming up for them.

Raymond said she is "very proud of the seniors."

"I have known most of them for three years," she said. "They are excited to be seniors and are very good students."

She said the district is "doing the right things for kids at the right time."

"We are providing a lot more opportunities, experiences and exposures to our students and that is what we want to do," she said.