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School within a school

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PERU, N.Y. -

This fall, a new school is opening its classroom doors to in-coming high school freshman. It's called P-TECH.

"Pathways through early college high school," says Chris Mazzella, principal of Adirondack P-TECH.

The new Adirondack technology learning center is a school within a school, located in Peru High School. It's meant for students interested in engineering.

"I am obsessed with math, science, and technology, so it looked like a fun program," says Bryanna Durgan, a soon-to-be student at Adirondack P-TECH.

Students will spend grades 9 through 12 at P-TECH and then have the option to continue the program for two additional years at Clinton Community College.

"The major aspects is the change is curriculum. It's inquiry based, project based learning in all areas of study - english and social studies, math and science," says Mazzella.

But this innovative idea isn't all that new.

"It actually started in New York City 3 years ago. The original P-TECH school is in Brooklyn," says Mazzella.

It was a success in Brooklyn. Peru, Saranac and Beekmantown school districts were awarded 1 of the 16 state grant, to start P-TECH throughout New York.

"It's a seven year grant and the schools and the partnership and our regional BOCES are looking at plans for sustainability beyond the length of the grant," says Mazzella.

After completing requirements at the high school level, P-TECH students will come to Clinton Community College guaranteed. The students' first year will be totally paid for by the P-TECH program. And after graduating with an associate's degree, the P-TECH students will be first in line to apply for jobs in the tech field with participating businesses.

8 local businesses, including Bombardier and Nova Bus, will be a part of the P-TECH program.

"Each kid in this program will get a mentor with one of our industrial partners, and they will have to meet with them 30 minutes a week," says Mazzella.

Nicholas Harney is one of the 30 students accepted in Adirondack P-TECH. He's excited that he won't be sitting at a desk too often, and have a more hands-on learning experience.

"I feel like it's going to open a lot of doors. College applications, job applications, are going to see that I was involved in a more advanced program," says Harney.

Bryanna Durgan hopes to get into computing or engineering after school. "This is a good program to start off with that," she says.

P-TECH students will still need to meet all requirements for high school graduation in New York State, in addition to their tech studies. The principal of P-TECH is excited for the coming school year.

"I think this model is the wave of the future," says Mazzella.

The future engineers of the North Country can now have a good head-start in the technology world.

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