Ypsilanti school district to open New Tech High School
Next fall, when students in the Ypsilanti area’s newest high school get done learning their geometry lessons, they’ll take those concepts and turn them into art.
That’s because they won’t be sitting in a traditional math class. Instead, they’ll be in a geoart class - a 100 minute-a-day course that combines geometry and art.
It’s one of three combination classes for the 100-plus students who will make up the initial freshman class at the Ypsilanti school district’s New Tech High School.
The two others? Historytech and Biolit.
Combining classes is one part of the new techniques that will be used at the school, which will meet in Ardis Elementary School, a building that has been closed for several years.
The high school is geared to combine technology with new teaching techniques that focus in on project learning, said Cory McElmeel, who’s in charge of the school.
Ypsilanti’s New Tech is one five such high schools opening in the state this year, joining more than 50 already in operation across the nation.
The district has been holding information sessions for parents and will hold two more this week, both starting at 6 p.m. in the high school’s media center. The first session is tonight and the second is Wednesday night.
In each class, students will start with a project entry sheet, where they’ll list things they already know about the subject being studied and things they need to know. In consultation with their teacher and their peers, they’ll then work on mastering the topic while also doing a project.
For example, McElmeel points to a class at a tech school in California that was studying cancer and built websites with information about different kinds of cancers. Those websites were then linked on the American Cancer Society’s website, so teens looking for information about cancer could find information put together and presented by their peers.
While there will still be lectures in classes, the idea behind the school is for it to revolve more around the student than the teacher.
Each class will be somewhat larger than a normal high school class, with about 40 or 45 students. However, there will be two certified teachers in each class, meaning the teacher-student ratio will be lower than in most high school classes.
The three classes will take the bulk of the day. Students at New Tech will then go back to Ypsilanti High School for sixth hour, meaning they can still take electives like band or choir. The New Tech students will also be able to play sports at Ypsilanti High School.
The goal is to have about 125 students in each grade at the school. It’s opening this fall with just freshmen and will add a grade each year.
Each year will also see new combinations of classes added. The goal is for the older students to take up to 12 hours of college credit while still in high school and leave the school with an internship under their belt.
David Jesse covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-623-2534.