Purdue, IPS team up to open new high school to help prepare inner city kids for college

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Purdue University and Indianapolis Public Schools are teaming up to open a new high school, called Purdue Polytechnic High School. The new stem school will help inner city kids succeed in high school and have a direct bridge into college, working to improve the low numbers of kids who are qualified to get into colleges.

“When you think of a traditional high school; you go to biology, then algebra, and English...but this school will not be like that. The entire school is focused on projects, hands-on learning, and the content will come from the projects,” said Scott Bess, head of school at Purdue Polytechnic High School.

The school will focus on enrolling low-income, first-generation and minority kids into the school. The students will study science, technology, engineering, and math. The goal is to make sure the students are ready to move onto college.

“I think that more students want to do hands-on projects. I know that I like to be hands on because when we do paper assignments I feel that I do not learn as well,” said future Polytechnic High School student Kayla Owens.

According to Purdue University, out of the 48,000 Indiana High School graduates in 2014 who took the SAT, only 101 African American students and 156 Hispanic students had SAT scored and GPA’s in the range of the average Purdue freshman. Also, Purdue University was only able to offer 26 IPS student’s admittance into this year’s freshman class. Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said his university will do whatever it takes to make sure the school and students are on the track to college and higher paying jobs.

“These kids have to be well enough prepared that when they walk across the stage on graduation night and receive their diploma, inside will be an admission paper to Purdue University. That is a tall order given the situation that we are starting in,” said Daniels.

USA funds gave $500,000 to start the planning of the school. Purdue Polytechnic High School will start with 150 students for the first year and then move up to 600 kid’s total.

“I want to see well prepared and purposeful young people with big smiles at Purdue Polytechnic because they are on their way to Purdue University or a great life somehow,” said Daniels.

If Purdue University Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis is successful, school officials will consider adding more locations around the state.