A Walk Down Memory Lane: Programs create learning opportunities

The Newtonite

by Hilary Brumberg

[media-credit name=”file photo” align=”alignright” width=”300″]Ligerbots team mentor Nate Duchman, Benji Nitkin '11, South technical education teacher Jen Stephens, juniors Ross Stanley and Owen Weitzman and Eli Glick, South '11, stand with mascots next to their robot.[/media-credit]

Ligerbots team mentor Nate Duchman, Benji Nitkin ’11, South technical education teacher Jen Stephens, juniors Ross Stanley and Owen Weitzman and Eli Glick, South ’11,

This school is constantly shifting and growing to accommodate the interests, skills and needs of the current students and faculty. Over the last four years, this school adopted a variety of new programs and classes in order to help guide students through their high school careers and better prepare them for life in the 21st century.
The Ligerbots, a coalition of students and faculty from this school and South, was founded in 2008 to “make science and technology as loud and fun as NASCAR, a rock concert or a sporting event,” former South information technology specialist Greg Poulos said at the time.
After a successful pilot week in June 2009, Safe Rides began a year-long program. The Safe Rides program offers students a free taxi ride home Friday and Saturday nights with the purpose of providing a safe, reliable ride if a student is caught in an emergency situation, according to Nancy Holczer, chair of The Newton Partnership’s Safe Rides Task Force.
Newton Central High opened in the fall of 2009 as an alternative high school for students who require a small and stable educational environment. “For years we have had to send students out of the City to a school where they can work better, but we felt we could do a better job here and save money,” said Walter Lyons, special education department head and administrator of Central.
That same fall, this school launched the Peer Tutoring program, through which upperclassmen tutor underclassmen who are struggling in a particular subject.
Newton’s Lab, the Newton Public Schools’ Innovation Laboratory, launched its three-year pilot project in November 2010. The innovation lab “acts as an incubator, consultant, advocate, and networking/resource manager” for students and faculty who have innovative ideas, English teacher and chief innovation officer Steve Chinosi explained at the time.
Beginning in September 2011, this school held four extended homerooms and two school-wide events as part of the new anti-bullying curriculum it adopted in accordance with new state laws. “With this curriculum, we are trying to strengthen this school’s environment, to positively affect students and make the school a safe place,” according to Beals housemaster Michelle Stauss.
“Two Schools, One Book,” an annual summer reading initiative, began this past summer. All NPS students read Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. The initiative culminated with a day-long, schoolwide program October 14, 2011 featuring 10 discussion panels.
This school adopted Keys to Success, an incentive-based program, in November 2011. Each month, faculty members nominate students who performed random acts of kindness and/or have increased their academic standing to select from a variety of prizes.