By Dave Perozek
ROGERS — A New Technology High School organization designed to forge stronger bonds between the school and the community met for the first time Wednesday.
About 50 students, parents, educators and business people gathered over lunch to hear Principal Lance Arbuckle lay out his vision for the group, which he named Community in Action.
The charter school, now in its sixth year, emphasizes project-based learning. The school must engage community members to help make project-based learning opportunities more authentic for students, Arbuckle told the group.
That means if a local business has a project to do but doesn’t have the manpower to do it, that business might turn to New Technology students.
“My vision for CIA is to create an opportunity where we seamlessly connect you to us, and us to you,” Arbuckle said.
Those opportunities to engage in real-world projects will advance not only their technical skills, but soft skills necessary to succeed in a career, such as communication, collaboration and teamwork, he said.
Arbuckle, after his presentation, asked the group to break up into smaller groups to discuss his idea and write down their comments.
“That’s why you’re here, is to share with us,” he said. “If we’re going to engage together, what do you need out of that process?”
He said he would use that information to move forward.
Wes Russell, owner of MegaByte Computer Center in Rogers, said he enjoyed the meeting and was planning on returning for the next one, scheduled for Jan. 23.
Russell employs two high school interns, including one from New Tech. The senior began working at MegaByte as part of an internship class he’s taking this semester, which is the last hour of the school day. Russell encouraged the student to work additional hours rather than head to a minimum-wage job he had after school.
“So he comes in, he works his seventh hour for us, then he clocks in and gets paid for the rest of the day,” Russell said. “He’s done a great job.”
New Tech has 32 students engaged in school-sanctioned internships, according to Arbuckle.
Rhonda Adams has a child at the school. She and her husband co-own The Grove Comedy Club in Lowell. A few years ago, they used students from a graphic design class to design a wrap that would go on their food truck. The students’ teacher graded them on that project, and her husband also provided feedback, she said.
“I want there to be many more real-life projects for them to do,” Adams said. “I would love it if so many more businesses came in and had quick, real-world projects they could do.”