The Buffalo Public School District has created an all new Bennett High School. A ribbon cutting was held Tuesday to open the first Computing Academy of Technological Sciences at Bennett on Main Street.
Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said this is one of five new innovation high schools to open that will 'motivate' students to learn.
“This is a magnificent morning,” stated Cash.
Cash said he truly believes this will resolve equity issues and should begin to close the gap with criterion city schools.
“It’s going to close the gap between equity and quality that we have among our high schools and Bennett, among the criterion schools and traditional high schools. We’ve got to close that gap. It can’t be a tale of two school systems. That’s what this will do” Cash said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown joined the event.
“It is good to have a visionary superintendent, isn’t it?” remarked Mayor Brown.
The innovation schools are designed to provide expanded opportunities for careers in the emerging technology industries in Western New York. The mayor is certain there will be thousands of future jobs to fill in the city.
“In the next couple of years more than 12,000 new jobs will be created in the city of Buffalo proper,” Mayor Brown declared.
The schools are designed to help provide a 'career pathway' and direct opportunity into an emerging workforce in the next ten years, spurred by the city’s economic initiative for Buffalo.
“We want our young people to be prepared and ready to take the jobs that are coming to Western New York over these next ten years,” stated Cash.
Cash describe creating city schools that entice and motivate a student to attend class and be excited about learning.
"You can't attack attendance problems by hiring more attendance teachers," stated Cash. "You have to develop programs young people find motivating, find interesting and then they have to put the effort in to be successful."
The creation of this new community school was a group effort with the district, Bennett High alumni and city leaders.
School Board Member Sharon Belton-Cottman was part of the effort to keep Bennett preserved and creating the new community school.
“When we first started out, I was very concerned. I was afraid, to be honest with you, because I didn’t know how I was going be able to save this building,” explained Belton-Cottman. “I graduated from East High School and what would Buffalo be if we didn’t have a rivalry between East and Bennett High School, so here I find myself on the other side fighting for both schools to make sure they maintain themselves and that they are available for public education moving forward. There’s a legacy in our city.”
Former Bennett High School Principal and Alumni Marilyn Wittman appeared at the ribbon cutting to talk about the role in new school at Bennett.
"I want to talk about hope for kids because that’s why we’re really all her today,” said Wittman. “Once we knew this was going to remain a public school, we met Dr. Cash."
Susan Doyle serves as Principal of the Computer Academy of Technological Sciences at Bennett.
“We’re very excited to be part of this wonderful initiative,” said Doyle, “When we were asked to move to Bennett, because we didn’t have a permanent home and we were asked to move here, we were excited to have an actual school building.”
Open houses for the new innovation schools were held in April by the district. “But no school is a school without wonderful kids," said Doyle.
Nichole Baker is the very first student to accepted at the new Bennett school. She appeared at the ribbon cutting with her father Marvin.
Doyle explained there was concern about signing up students.
"We were a little nervous on our very first open house that there was only like four kids here and Nicole was one of them, but as the word got out the applications flowed and unfortunately not everyone could get in, but that’s the beautiful beginning," explained Doyle.
Bennett is the first of five new innovation schools to be launched in the coming weeks.
Other new schools and programs include the following:
- East Community High School will serve as a center for the community with a focus on academics, career and technical education, health and social services, and youth and community development to transform the lives of our young people through a dynamic comprehensive high school experience. Students in the law, public safety, corrections, and security pathway will take courses to prepare them for planning, managing, and providing legal, public safety, protective services and homeland security, including professional and technical support services.
- The Bioinformatics and Life Sciences Research Lab at Math, Science, and Technology Preparatory School in which industry partners will support the development of curriculum and give students the opportunity to use state of the art technology while actively engaging in real world scientific research. Through project based learning in both the classroom and laboratory settings, students will develop their leadership and interpersonal skills through collaborative mentorships and joint research opportunities in conjunction with the University at Buffalo, UB’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), Buffalo State College, and Empire Genomics Company.
- The Solar Pathways Program at South Park High School, partnering with Solar City, Erie Community College, and Compliance & Administrative Services of NY (CASNY) providing work experience, mentoring, and curriculum development. Students can earn an associate degree in six years at no cost for college credit to their families and will be first in line for jobs with participating companies when they graduate.
- Lafayette International High School is designed for any student who has arrived from another country or Puerto Rico in the last four years, who is learning English and is entering the 9th grade in September 2016. Students can expect a safe and caring community school that will have project-based learning, internships and mentoring, native language support, and a strong relationship with Buffalo State College an the International Network for Public Schools.