The first of 10 schools of excellence through which Keren Kayemet LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund hopes to help youngsters in peripheral communities to realize their potential, opened in Upper Nazareth on Tuesday.Participating in the launch were President Reuven Rivlin, KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar and Upper Nazareth Mayor Ronen Plot.The project, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, offers informal educational tools to youth from all sectors, with the aim of closing social and educational gaps.The initiative will bring youth from different backgrounds together, and will enable them to get to know one another.Unlike many extracurricular enrichment projects which are often expensive, this one is free of charge.Small group classes with the main focus on STEM education, i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will be conducted by professional teams including not only private teachers but also veterans of the IDF’s Unit 8200, responsible for signal intelligence and code decryption.The three-story building has an open area on the ground floor, classrooms on the upper floors, a computer laboratory, an auditorium for films and lectures, and offices for the director and the educational coordinators. The planning includes a special area for recreational activities such as video games and social events. The building for the pilot project is a former immigrant absorption center that has been refurbished to suit its new role as an attractive educational facility. Rivlin lamented the fact that in 2018, 70 years after the establishment of the state, there is still a wide gap between the chances of a child from a peripheral community succeeding in scientific and technological subjects, and those of a child from the center of the country. “This gap must be closed,” the president insisted. “Not today but yesterday.”The School of Excellence should give every boy and girl in Upper Nazareth and surrounds the belief that the sky’s the limit and that there’s no reason to give up on themselves and to forfeit their dreams, said Rivlin.Atar said that the project was based on the conviction that KKL-JNF must play a more vigorous role in strengthening peripheral communities. Among the first things that were done in this respect, he said, was the adoption of paramilitary units and all the youth groups in Israel. Part of the development of every young person, he said, is to have faith in themselves.“That’s why we’re trying to bring about change in the places where they live, because they are the next generation of leaders of their communities.”Plot was proud of the fact that Nazareth already has excellent young people, some of who won an international space competition and are currently at the Moscow Space Center. One of the experiments developed by the students was sent into space by NASA, he said.