NTA offers second chance for seniors

Program prepares participants for life experiences

Yonah Davis, Yonit Krebs, and Amber Tran

Malaika Bigirindavyi
Senior Devante Childress attends the Non-Traditional Academy during fourth hour Mar 13.

Senior Non-traditional Academy (NTA) member Eli Haddorff feels accomplished as he reflects on the program’s hands-on and project-based curriculum.

According to Haddorff, the members of the club are currently working with CAD, which he said exemplifies the type of hands-on and project-based curriculum NTA advocates.

“Right now we’re working with CAD, which is a computer program that 3D prints stuff. We’re designing the hacky sack toss thing. We’re designing those off of CAD then 3D printing them,” Haddorff said. “So it’s a lot more hands-on and most assignments are in groups, at least with a partner. You never really do anything alone.”

English teacher Andrew Carlson said although he doesn’t agree with the term “alternative,” Non-traditional Academy (NTA), offers a non-traditional path, focused on project-based learning which allows for more flexibility (in students’ classwork).

”It’s a different approach to teaching and learning. There is more one-on-one help,” Carlson said. “It’s a class that allows for students to be able to work at their own pace, unlike a traditional classroom where you get the homework today and it’s absolutely due tomorrow.”

Haddorff said NTA is only offered during senior year and helps students focus on graduation and credit recovery.

“It’s like a hands-on program. It’s just a different way of learning so most assignments are in groups and there is two teachers teaching every class so the student to teacher ratio is smaller,” Haddorff said.

According to Carlson, NTA intends to help students graduate, as all of its participants are seniors who either have come from other schools or have lost credits throughout the years.

“Some of them have come from maybe other schools. Some students have been behind in credits for various reasons, maybe their freshman (or) sophomore year just didn’t go very well and they are low on credits,” Carlson said. “The main goal is that these students can graduate in four years and not have to go through necessarily the GED process or come back for maybe a fifth year of highschool.”

Carlson said he works along with social studies teacher Debra Skadden to provide the students in NTA with English and social studies curriculum. Carlson said Liz Huesing and Mark Miller teach the math and science part of NTA.

“I work alongside Deb Skadden, who’s a social studies teacher, and we kind of work together on various lessons and projects. She will focus on the social studies side of it. I’ll focus on the English, language arts side of it,” Carlson said.

According to Carlson, besides helping students graduate, NTA works to provide students with more preparation for life after high school.

“(We work on) trying to find things that are a little bit more connected with what you’re going to need to know in your life verses learning this equation because it’s a part of algebra, or whatever it is. It’s more of doing taxes, balancing a checkbook, some more of life lessons,” Carlson said.