New classes coming to NPHS

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Director of Instruction Miles Hercamp

NEW PALESTINE — The plan is to continue to provide a wide range of educational opportunities for students. That’s the motivating factor for Southern Hancock officials who have officially added 20 new classes to the curriculum for next year and beyond. Starting in the fall of 2023, New Palestine High School will be offering students multiple pathways towards graduation with the addition of several new classes.

During the most recent school board meeting, Director of Instruction Miles Hercamp and New Palestine High School Principal Jim Voelz told the board about the new opportunities awaiting students.

“With the way graduation pathways changes we have to come up with different opportunities for all our kids,” Hercamp said. “This is by far the most classes we’ve ever added in one year … a record number.”

Some of the new classes include themes in literature, women’s voice; film literature; principals of teaching; American Sign Language as well as classes like engineering design and development, just to name a few.

“One of our school improvement goals was to give kids more opportunities,” Voelz said.

Hercamp noted district officials are pleased to see so many new opportunities and stated the high school curriculum will look very different five years from now.

Communications Director Wes Anderson said district officials are excited to make these new courses available at NPHS in the coming years and that additional opportunities for students to pursue their interests is an important goal across the curriculum.

“This is part of what makes learning connected, dynamic and engaging,” Anderson said. “Indiana’s Graduation Pathways program is designed to provide students with a variety of experiences and learning options.”

Officials stated while not every one of the 20 new classes will officially start next year, they have to have a three-year plan including getting all the classes approved this year, so they can get students on board to offer more advanced classes through the coming years.

Voelz and his leadership team at NPHS had a meeting and came up with several new educational opportunities.

“We’re going to have classes in seven different areas,” Hercamp said.

The district is adding the new programming because it helps them get extra funding from the Department of Work Force Development for what officials call “next level” programming.

Hercamp explained the opportunities are part of a four-year plan to first offer principles classes, and then by the time students are seniors, officials can offer what is called “capstone” classes. Capstone courses would place senior students in a real work environment.

“It’s more than work-based learning,” Hercamp said. “They’ll get paid and get credit for it.”

The new classes will be in engineering, education, construction, arts as well as marketing and sales — all designed to give students opportunities in fields they might be interested in once they graduate high school.

“We have to start with the new classes now so we can get to the capstone classes,” Hercamp said.

The district has been proactive in the “Grow Your Own” initiative, trying to get would-be teachers into college education classes before they leave high school so they can get the future teachers back into their district as soon as possible.

“We want to bring our own kids back,” Hercamp said.

The whole idea is to offer classes students want to take and teachers want to teach. He noted some of the new classes like advanced chemistry will be a dual credit class because they are always interested in offering dual credit to students.

Some of the speciality classes like the themes in literature, woman’s voices will be offered to students who want to study more about a special subject rather than take English 11 or English 12.

Voelz noted there will be a lot of hard work ahead for teachers, but he knows they’ve got the staff who is up to the challenge.

“I’m incredibly proud that we have in almost every single department new classes,” Voelz said. “Our goal as a staff is to never have a senior come to a guidance counselor and say, ‘there is nothing to take,’ and we want it to be in the area they are interested in.”

Voelz says in order to pay for the new classes they’ll work through the building budget and get help with grants.

“This whole thing is kind of a cool buzz,” Voelz said, noting some current seniors say they wish officials had offered more choices during their earlier high school years.

Hercamp added some of the classes will be year-long while others will be one semester.