Thursday is the first day of school at New Tech High in Sioux Falls and students are already starting an all-school project. The goal is to inspire kids to get involved in the community. 

Mayor Paul TenHaken is getting the year started at New Tech. The focus on day one and two? Connecting students with each other and Sioux Falls.

“Everyone in this room, if you all took your idea and said, ‘Hey, I want to do this and I want to make a difference here. I want to help out here.’ Man, we could have such big change in our city and positive change,” TenHaken said.

More than a dozen non-profits will be in and out of the school this week as the students learn about community service during their first few days.

“I’m pretty excited. It’s pretty strange to be a senior. I’m looking forward to what they have in store for us with this new project,” senior Abby Maloney said.

Maloney says she already likes to be active in her community with her therapy dog Taffy. She also volunteers at nursing homes helping residents learn how to use new technology.

“I really think doing community service for everyone is important. It’s a good way to get personal experience and learn more about others in your community and how you can help,” Maloney said.

New Tech students complete 40 hours of community service during their time at the school that focuses on project-based learning.

“You’re part of a really special school here at New Tech. I think you know that. The model of education here, the teachers that you have here. This is a really cool and special place. The fact that you get to kick off your year with community-driven initiatives like this, is really, really cool,” TenHaken said.

There are 335 students enrolled at New Tech this year including the biggest senior class the school has ever seen.