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Education

New BOCES school in central New York offers high school students real-world styles of learning

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO News
Seven Valleys New Tech Academy in Cortland.

A second school that emphasizes a project-based learning strategy has opened its doors in central New York.

The Seven Valleys New Tech Academy is now available in the city of Cortland. The academy is operated by Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES, and is designed to offer students a style of learning they wouldn’t receive in a traditional high school, according to BOCES Superintendent J. Francis Manning.

“As opposed to a traditional high school, where you went 45 minutes and you had your one English class, you had your math class …. you actually work on authentic projects, and know why they’re learning the math, the science the English,” Manning said.

There are 126 New Tech Academies nationwide, and this is the second one operated by BOCES in central New York. The other is in Liverpool.

The 43 ninth and 10th graders enrolled this year don’t take traditional classes, but work in teams in an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on solving real-world problems in local businesses.

Mitchell Elston of Cortland is in the ninth grade, and is looking forward to what the New Tech Academy has in store.

"I wanted to come here because it’s better than sitting in a metal chair listening to somebody give you a lecture about how World War Two started. Here you can look it up, and you can find out yourself, and you do a whole bunch of projects. It’s just a different way of learning,” Elston said.

This new way of learning encourages students to be creative thinkers and problem solvers according to Manning. He also says the authentic projects created along with members of Cortland’s business community are important.

“Students will solve the project, and at the very end present it to the business, and when I say business it could be a non-profit, or government, and they could present the solution to an authentic audience as opposed to their teachers," Manning said.

Although the New Tech Academy offers students a different way of learning, they still need to fulfill all of New York State’s education requirements.