Principals wowed by New Tech expansion

October 5, 2010

Napa’s New Tech High School unveiled its nearly finished expansion wing to principals of other “new technology” high schools and VIPs on Thursday night.

Principals from across the nation came to Napa for two days to tour the recently opened classroom expansion of the school.

Napa’s New Tech High addition has a plethora of skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows with views toward Main Street.

 Principal Alan Veach from Bloomington, Ind., said he was excited to see a new building built for 21st century education. “That is what this building has been designed for,” he said.

The expanded space includes a 254,000-gallon cistern that captures rainwater that will be used to irrigate the landscape. As a practical exercise, students taking physics will be challenged to calculate how much water has been collected throughout the rainy season.

Napa’s New Tech High also now has a garden that will be used as an outdoor learning space.

The school, which was launched in the mid 1990s, is viewed as a model by educators across the nation. Inspired by Napa’s example, there are some 200 new technology campuses nationwide.

Visitors mingled last week in the school’s new Cyber Cafe where students can use their laptops to do school work.

Impressed by New Tech’s layout, Veach said he intended to return home and replicate some of the school’s innovations.

Another new-tech principal, Steven Zipkes, who last visited the Napa campus five years ago, wondered about the effect of the new addition on student performance. “I want to talk to the students and see if this excites or deters their learning,” he said.

Zipkes works at Manor New Tech High near downtown Austin, Texas. “I find this building gorgeous,” he said.

Devon Katzner, Napa’s New Tech Associated Student Body president said, “There is nothing else like this.” When he first came to the school, he was apprehensive about the culture, “but then I started to like it,” Katzner said.

Also on hand were the architects of expansion, NTD Architecture of Auburn. NTD specializes in designing schools.

“I think of architecture as a teaching tool. I believe (atmosphere) stimulates curiosity and knowledge,” architect Jordan Knighton said.

Architect Derek Labrecque described the new addition as a more professional environment. “The idea of this Cyber Cafe is more about flexibility and collaboration,” Labrecque said. “These things are all about a dynamic learning opportunity.”

Knighton said the space puts children first. “This is all about the future of our society. This is all about transparency,” he said.

Knighton said the new space is so attractive and exciting “that I would like to go back to school. This space definitely puts students first. This isn’t the kind of school their parents went to.