August 25, 2014
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
The second and final phase of construction at Warrior Tech Academy at Magna Vista High School was completed recently.
Two large learning labs that each can accommodate 50 students and two smaller “breakout rooms,” where groups of students can work on projects, were added, said Lindsay Favero, director of Warrior Tech.
Warrior Tech is a New Tech school within Magna Vista.
“The New Tech design provides an instructional approach centered on project-based learning, a culture that empowers students and teachers, and integrated technology in the classroom,” according to the New Tech Network website.
One of the Warrior Tech’s new learning labs and one of the new breakout rooms were created from space in the commons area of Warrior Tech, Favero said. She estimated the commons area now may be one-third the size it was last year.
The other new learning lab was created by removing a wall between two side-by-side classrooms that were used by non-Warrior Tech classes. The other new breakout room was created by using storage space, Favero said.
Among other improvements was the addition of a hallway by making a conference room smaller, she added.
Warrior Tech now has four large learning labs and several breakout rooms, she said.
Construction of Warrior Tech, which opened in August 2013 with a class of about 100 ninth-graders, now is complete.
This year Warrior Tech has a total of nearly 200 ninth- and 10th-graders. It will grow to include grades 9-11 in 2015-16 and grades 9-12 in 2016-17.
Favero said to her knowledge Warrior Tech still is the only New Tech Network school in Virginia. No other school in Virginia is listed on the New Tech Network website.
Teachers (called facilitators) guiding students in learning rather than lecturing, students working together in groups to do projects (called collaboration), and providing some multi-subject classes are among the techniques at Warrior Tech, officials have said.
This year the course offerings for 10th-graders at Warrior Tech include a “co-taught” (more than one teacher) combined English 10 and Advanced Placement environmental science class named Bookworms and three stand-alone (single-subject) courses — World History 2, AP European History and dual enrollment trigonometry, Favero said.
Depending on the student’s level of achievement, classes that may be taken in ninth or 10th grade at Warrior Tech include geometry, Algebra II, Spanish I and Spanish II.
Warrior Tech students may take French classes on the main, or traditional, campus of Magna Vista but not at Warrior Tech, which is a school within a school at Magna Vista.
Ninth-grade classes that are offered again this year are Classical Connections, a co-taught class combining world history and English 9; and Homeo-Stay-Fit, a co-taught class combining biology and health and physical education 9.
“When students are given the chance to take ownership of their learning, they develop their content knowledge and leadership skills at the same time,” Favero explained. “This whole-child approach translates into actively engaged students in a culture that empowers them and motivates them for success in careers and college.”
She added that Warrior Tech is unique because it is “for any student willing to learn in the project-based-learning environment, not specifically (just) for high academically achieving students, though we have plenty of them. This isn’t some elite group or pick of the litter.”
Warrior Tech 10th-graders Cameron Penn, D.J. Stevenson and Chelsea Moyer said they like project-based learning better than the traditional classroom.
“It’s much easier. In this, you’ve got a computer to help you,” Cameron said.
He also likes working with other students on projects, drawing on each other’s strengths.
D.J. said it’s easier learning from someone his own age than learning from a teacher, who is older.
Chelsea said project-based learning is a “new and exciting” way for her to learn.
In April, the Henry County School Board awarded to Daniel & Co. Inc. of Danville a base bid in the amount of $203,850 (pending available funding) for the second phase of construction at Magna Vista.
Final costs of the project were not available Friday afternoon.
Favero said it’s exciting that the Warrior Tech facility is completed and “can host a full program,” referring to when Warrior Tech grows to include grades 9-12.
Magna Vista Principal JaMese Black said it’s good to be able to expand course offerings and opportunities for all Warrior Tech students.
Francis Zehr, who represents the Ridgeway District on the Henry County School Board, said some people are coming from neighboring jurisdictions to be in Warrior Tech, which has an application process.
“Our (local) economic developers are trying to use this (Warrior Tech) as a recruiting tool,” he added.
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