We believe emphasis on STEM is necessary to obtain the 21st century skills required to succeed in today’s rapidly changing world. This includes the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, and drive advancements in sciences and technology. STEM initiatives are not science, technology, engineering and math in isolation but rather integration of STEM courses, programs, or series of linked learning opportunities using an interdisciplinary approach through exploration, discovery and/or solving real-life problems. The Freshman Academy is an initiative at SSES to improve student performance. The Freshman Academy is designed to ease the transition of freshman students from middle to high school. Our goal is to prepare all 9th graders to have a successful high school career in their desired academy pathway through strategic teamwork and development within their English, Social Studies, Science, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. Teams from each of the small schools work collaboratively on identifying local, national, or global sustainable issues to develop solutions and possible action plans. SSES provides both the small collaborative learning environment of a small school as well as the benefits of a large high school.