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Students, staff see success in new school

Students and staff have fared well during the first semester at Buffalo High School with a new building, as well as fresh ways of learning.

"School spirit is up this year," Principal Richard Grim said. "Kids are so proud of this new building. You see them taking care of it."

He said it is rare to find a piece of litter anywhere.

At the beginning of the school year, classes began in a new $20 million, state-of-the-art, 94,000-square-foot facility. The new school replaced a 61-year-old building.

Buffalo High also became part of the New Tech Network, a conglomerate of schools across the nation that rely on technology and project-based learning.

Teachers and staff traveled to Grand Rapids, Mich., for training before the start of the school year. The first semester was exciting but challenging as everyone adjusted to new surroundings as well as new way of learning.

The principal cited a couple of project examples: Students studied anatomy and physiology as they worked with professionals from West Virginia Water to improve safety measures. For a digital imaging project in advanced communications, they created a magazine that would interest teens.

Instead of learning strictly from books and lectures, students are putting knowledge into action.

"The students are more engaged," Grim said. "They see more relevance."

Projects are done as groups and there are students who would prefer to work alone without relying on others, he said. However, he believes this way of learning prepares them for the future.

"In the real world, how many of us work alone?"

Buffalo High has an enrollment of 315 students in grades nine through 12. The school was built to accommodate 400.

Putnam County voters approved a $56.7 million bond sale in 2009, and about $20 million was for the new Buffalo High. The school received a three-year, $300,000 grant for the curriculum. 

Grim has received calls inquiring about new teaching methods from schools throughout the state and the country. A recent call came from Wisconsin.

He said more than 120 schools throughout the United States are part of the New Tech Network. He believes the number will continue to grow.   

"I am sure as word gets out, more schools will want to come and see us," he said. "I feel good about it. We are still working on challenges, but we've only been doing this one semester. During the first few weeks we struggled to work out the bugs with a new building and a new program. This semester is going smoother."

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymail.com or 304-348-1246.


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