Everything’s going well in Huntington North High School’s new school within a school, administrators say.The “New Tech” program opened this fall, based on a model that emphasizes project-based learning and collaboration with heavy reliance on computers.Viking New Tech Director Kelly Renier reports that after the first quarter of VNT’s inaugural year, students are finding their niche.“I am definitely impressed with how well the students have adapted to just being in a different environment and being in a different setting,” she says. “The proof of that is when they speak to guests who come in from the outside.”Renier believes students are showing pride in the program.“Students are doing well,” she says. “We’ve got some kids who are struggling, but that’s to be expected. It kind of depends on the individual student and also, somewhat, the subject matter as well.”Academically, Renier says, there are no big surprises. Teachers can see an overall growth in the students, she adds. They monitor grades and are able to pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses in different areas.One skill Renier says the staff will continue to work on with their students is time management – an issue she says isn’t specific to New Tech, but is something all students face.In order to improve on their time management, Renier says students have a series of preliminary mini-deadlines for their projects, either placed by the students themselves or by the teacher.Since the start of the year, two groups have been established to provide students and parents a chance to give input into the new school program.Viking Voice was created for students, Renier explains, and is a student council specific to New Tech. It allows students to tell the VNT staff what they want to see in the program.Another group was made for VNT parents.“We’ve got a parent advisory team right now that we’ve gotten a little bit of feedback from and met with a small group of parents just to get their perspective on things as well, for what they are needing from us as far as information is concerned,” Renier says. Newsletters are sent out on a regular basis to keep informed.Parents were also invited to the VNT Parent Open House on Wednesday, Oct. 20 – the night of parent-teacher conferences – to see what their students are doing. They also learned about ECHO, the online program New Tech students and staff use daily, Renier says.Among the information included in ECHO are agendas, projects and grades.
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