PHOTOS: New Switzerland Co. School Academic Connector Provides "Pathways to Success"

Eagle Country 99.3 got a sneak peak at the new Academic Connector this morning.

Photo by Travis Thayer, Eagle Country 99.3.

(Vevay, Ind.) - Some exciting facility upgrades will be on display at Switzerland County Schools this afternoon. 

Switzerland County School Corporation will host an Open House this afternoon from 4:30 to 6:00 to show off their new Academic Connector. Parents, students, and community members can see the facility upgrades first hand and learn about pathways, related arts, college and career readiness, apprenticeships, and the new Freshman Academy. 

When Switzerland County Middle School was built 20 years ago, it was not connected to the high school despite its close proximity. Since then students from the middle school have been taking classes at the high school, walking between the two buildings with limited supervision, and at times in bitter cold temperatures, heavy rain, etc. 

"It became a safety issue," said Superintendent Rod Hite. "When I was interviewed to take this job six years ago, they asked how do you see this vision going forward." 

Hite explained that it would take a conversation between county council, the endowment, and the school board. 

Fast forward to more recent times, Hite and the rest of his administration saw a connector between the two schools to be much more than a hallway. 

What you see now is a two-story connector with multiple classrooms "Providing Pathways to Success." 

On the bottom floor, you will find four core freshman classrooms, labeled the "Freshman Academy." 

"The reason we put the four core freshman courses in that bottom level, we know kids that have a very successful freshman year have a much easier path in high school, and can take more opportunities whether it be Career Center, Ivy Tech classes, or workforce classes." 

Upstairs, the focus is on classes that middle school students take at the high school. Some of the courses offered upstairs are Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Media, Visual Arts, and College and Career Readiness. 

In the Advanced Manufacturing room is two simulators, including the one seen below. With several manufacturing companies in the area, the Advanced Manufacturing program will allow students the opportunity to get simulated hours on heavy equipment, lock out tag out training, safety training, OHSA-10 certifications, and work release opportunities. 

A student show how the crane and forklift simulator works. Photo by Travis Thayer, Eagle Country 99.3.

Students get to show off their creative side too. Students are currently trying out new equipment by making wooded coasters. One part of the process is using computer software to create a laser print on the wooden blocks. You can see the laser printer in action below. 

Another highlight of the Connector is Pacer Productions, which focuses on Esports, advanced robotics, coding, and podcasting. There are also plans in the future for a low frequency local radio station. 

Other additions include an Agriculture intro course for junior high and high school students, a new art room (old room will be repurposed into weight room), JAG program, and expansion of college course opportunities. Switzerland County High School currently works with Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College, and is exploring options with Purdue and Indiana State. 

"The whole idea behind it was how can we get Switzerland County students, not only a better experience but more success and graduation pathways. How do we give them job opportunities that other schools may not be able to provide for them. But more importantly, because it is Switzerland County, how do we get our kids employed into meaningful jobs when they come out of high school," said Hite. 

With grant money from the COVID-19 time period and the middle school being paid off, the project was completed with no impact to taxpayers. 

Students will begin classes in the new Academic Connector on Thursday. 

See photos below. 

 

 

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