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Posted on Tue, May 11, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti school district to open New Tech High School

By David Jesse

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 He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.


Basic Bob

Sat, May 15, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

@jlc155, A *Geoartist* could do mechanical design, drafting, or architecture. Sorry you can't see the use in combining intellectual and creative talents.


Thu, May 13, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

I for one am glad that Ypsilanti has two high schools now to choose from. It sounds like its perfect for kids who do better with hands on learning. When you think about the artistry in architecture, putting Geometry and Art together makes perfect sense. Michael Crichton proved that biology and literature can go hand and hand too, so way to go Ypsi!


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 7:17 p.m.

Wow if I ever need a Geoartist or a Bioliterary I know where to look, huh, I doubt I will ever need one though, so good job on the new school, I guess.


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 7:37 a.m.

This is such wonderful news! I am really excited to hear about the New Tech High school's approach. How did this idea start? Was it Weigel's idea or did it start with the teachers or what? Also, what if more than 125 students apply? How will they decide which students are accepted? How will School of Choice students work into the selection process?


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Excellent project idea. Hope it flies.

David Jesse

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

Thanks Emma. We've corrected the time in the actual story.

Emma Jackson

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

Just a slight correction, the parent meetings for New Tech begin at 6 p.m. Also to answer funding questions, the WISD has secured grants to fund the first two years of the program.

David Jesse

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

@Dading: There are six teachers for this new school for this year. All six are existing teachers who are just being transferred over.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

yes, sounds good... how's this fit into the ypsd budget? building co$ts, staff co$ts, bu$$ing back to the high school? like i said, sounds good, but how is the district justifying it financially with as many $$ problems that it has now?


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

This sounds like a great idea! I can't wait to see how the first year goes