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Calumet to become a New Tech demonstration site

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Calumet looks to expand New Tech to entire school

Charmaine Wierzbicki, left, a Calumet High School English and history teacher, helps sophomore Taylor Brennan with a documentary project during a New Tech class.

CALUMET TOWNSHIP | Hundreds of people from across the country could be visiting Northwest Indiana as Calumet High School is set to become a demonstration site for the New Tech Network.

Kris Williams, school development coach for the California-based New Tech Network, said it's "pretty special" for the school to have made the honor after just one year, and it speaks volumes about the effort of teachers and administrators.

Calumet implemented New Tech, a project-based form of study, for students in grades nine and 10 last year as part of drastic changes at the school, which was in its fifth year of probation and facing state intervention.

In addition to New Tech, it also aligned the curriculum to state standards and implemented the 8-Step Process, which focuses on continuous academic improvement. It implemented the transformational model of school reform, which includes data-driven instruction, extended remediation sessions and a school credit recovery program.

As a result, the school increased its graduation rate and test scores, and was removed from state probation. Williams called the school "a model" for schools in the New Tech network and others planning to join.

He said hundreds of people in and outside the U.S. visit its demonstration sites. Calumet will join six other demonstration sites in Indiana, which include Rochester Community High School in Rochester and Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. There are 19 New Tech schools in Indiana, and Williams said they are reviewing several new applications. Gary Roosevelt will join the New Tech Network in the fall with a group of 100 freshmen in the program.

"We know this will be new for Calumet," Williams said. "We're not going to bombard them with visitors. They will have the ability to say no, but they are a great example of what New Tech is all about. We will review their progress again in December to see how they are doing, considering they are doubling in size."

Lake Ridge Schools Superintendent Sharon Johnson-Shirley said it was great news.

"I am just so pleased. We have really been working very hard. The staff has embraced it," she said. "The staff went to training this summer and even before that, we developed a buddy system where the current New Tech teachers began working with those who are joining New Tech. We hope to have a smooth roll out in the fall."

Principal Tim Pivarnik said he takes his hat off to the staff.

"It's been a team effort from the building level, to central office, to the School Board. Not every student has been responsive because they worry about changes, but once they've assimilated to New Tech, they are enjoying it and they get a chance to use their strengths in technology," he said.

"Not every student has been responsive because they worry about changes, but once they've assimilated to New Tech, they are enjoying it and they get a chance to use their strengths in technology." -Calumet High School Principal Tim Pivarnik

Calumet High School Principal Tim Pivarnik

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