DeKalb New Tech

Professional, Authentic, Relevant

My Growth through my DNT Experience

Guest blogger:  Vanessa Garcia, former student at DeKalb New Tech

I was a student at DeKalb High School during my Freshman year through the beginning of my Junior year. Being a student in DeKalb New Tech was so much fun and a great learning experience. My teachers helped me become who I am now. I loved everything about DNT; from the class environment, learning techniques, gatherings we had in the gymnasium, projects, and the great opportunities you can experience in DNT.

Freshman year was so much fun and an exciting year to begin New Tech! Our first project, Zombie 5k Run/Walk, was a fun experience for those of us involved. During that project my weaknesses became my strengths, such as talking to strangers on the phone. I used to be afraid to order a pizza on the phone and now I’m not. I was a shy person around people, but as we continued to worked in groups, I wasn’t shy any more. I wasn’t afraid to take charge when the group went off task and wasted work time. After we finished that project, I changed into a new person. New opportunities came and I took them. My first opportunity was to represent DeKalb New Tech with other students at the New Tech IPFW Project Showcase. Four of us presented the Zombie 5k to other New Tech schools and community members who attended the showcase. Other students showed different projects. We had the opportunity to meet other students.  Also, we had a tour around the campus of what studies we might do after high school.

Another project that helped me grow was the Café project. We spent time researching the right foods and equipment for the café to happen. Mrs. Irwin and Mrs. Evans believed I was the right person in the group of students to present to the school board the proposal of building a café inside the school. Presenting to them was a big deal for us. The following morning, we received the news we were approved. We practiced hard and worked to get the right information to get approved again for the next meeting. We were told the next meeting would be held at the middle school in front of a larger crowd and we would have to speak into a microphone. We were nervous to speak to a larger audience compared to the last time we presented. As we finished presenting, I felt relief and pride.

I was also lucky to be on a student panel who spoke to parents of incoming freshman.  The student panel shared information about New Tech and why we felt New Tech is the right direction for a student who wants to be successful and confident.

Presenting is what we did many times during my sophomore year at DeKalb New Tech. I was very confident in myself after my first year in high school. Presenting to business people was exciting!  We were able to present our vinaigrette salad dressing recipes to state representative, Ben Smaltz and local businesswoman, Natalie DeWitt-Taylor.

New Tech didn’t only change me completely but made me more confident about myself. All of my teachers have helped me in so many ways. I can trust them all and truly wish they could be my teachers now. They are not there just to teach you, but lead you to be successful now and in the future. I truly miss everyone at DeKalb High School.  The future may lead you in difficult directions, but into something amazing in the end!

DeKalb Placebook: Trends & Tributes

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World Bio Facilitators:  Mrs. Lapham and Ms. Pierce

On Friday, October 28th DeKalb New Tech World Bio students met with area professionals exploring potential topics for their current project titled “Start Primary…Become Extraordinary”. Students are creating a DeKalb County Placebook, highlighting the trends and tributes of DeKalb county, and answering the driving question “People & Places: How do you start primary and become extraordinary?” DeKalb County Placebook:Trends will feature places of interest to teens, while DeKalb County Placebook:Tributes will feature historical notable people of DeKalb County. The World Bio Class has partnered with Matt Bechdol, GeoSilos President, and Dawn Mason, DeKalb County GIS Coordinator, to create the DeKalb County Placebook. Students will be learning and implementing GIS software to create a digital story map of their chosen trends and tributes in DeKalb county.

DeKalb community members recently played a very crucial role, in helping students generate ideas for the DeKalb Placebook by participating in a classroom think tank.  Students rotated around and met with multiple community historians, attorneys, educators, entrepreneurs,  librarians, and county officials to brainstorm ideas for the DeKalb Placebook . Those who participated in the 2016 DeKalb County Placebook Think Tank include: Darcy Armstrong, Matt Bechdol, Andrew Bigelow, Lisa Conrad, Chelsea Dant, Joan Eardly, Galen Eberhart, Chad Gramling, Zach Lightner, Dawn Mason, Dotty Miller, Megan Moss, Jeremiah Otis, Becky Pfeffer, Terry Rayle, Thom Smith, and Cathy Vick. The World Bio class would like to thank and recognize these community experts for donating their time to help explore potential topics for the students’ 2016 DeKalb County Placebook.

In Geography and History of the World students are examining the physical and human geographic factors associated with the origin and growth of towns and cities, while in Biology, students are exploring cellular structure and function as it relates to cities. In addition to the DeKalb Placebook, students are currently creating analogies between cellular structure and function to their chosen megacity that will be displayed through GIS story mapping software. Students will then demonstrate mastery of these standards and skills through the DeKalb County Placebook presentation to be presented to many of our DeKalb county community partners on November 21st at the Eckhart Public Library.


New Doors Revealed at Shelter Ministries

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Visual Verbal Communications Facilitators:  Mrs. Buchs and Ms. Van Straten

On Saturday, October 29th, Shelter Ministries held an open house to showcase their new facility located at 1103 West Auburn Drive.  Their new facility includes four outside doors.

DeKalb New Tech students from our Visual Verbal Communications class designed the inside and outside of the doors to the four ministries. The doors are wrapped with digital images printed on a thick permanent vinyl coating.   A Financial Assistance door, Christmas Bureau door, Food Pantry door and Clothing bank door were unveiled by the students at the openhouse in front of a cheering crowd on Saturday.
Renee Florin from Shelter ministries planned the event which included raffles and refreshments …   and a good turnout.

Capturing Memories

Thank you to our student bloggers, Delaney Finderson and Shawn Knapp.

DigiComm Facilitators:  Mrs. Boyd and Ms. McNulty


The first project in our sophomore Digital Communications class was to write memoir poems with corresponding portraits. The memoir was based upon an important moment in each student’s life or in someone else’s life who was close to them. The memoir was written in first person, and the portrait was taken by each student to showcase the emotion and meaning carried in each memorized poem. The process began with writing memoirs in the form of a picture with a six-word memoir placed on the picture. “My contemporary family unlocked my melody” would be an example.  This six-word memoir

Shawn Knapp’s Six-Word Memoir

was imprinted on a stylized connected picture or photo. Once every student created a set consisting of a six-word memoir and a photo, he or she began to work on a rough draft of the personal memoir.  If students were enrolled in Honors DigiComm, they partnered up, were assigned a faculty member to write a memoir about, and were required to conduct a deep interview with their memoir subject. After completing the personal rough draft and the interview, the students collaborated to peer review and complete edits together and began to work on memorizing their personal poem; in addition, they started a rough draft of their honors subject poem. After continuing to peer edit and utilize memorization skills, the memoir poems were practiced in a presentation format in the classroom, although the final presentation was held at Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings coffee shop in downtown Auburn. After teacher review, each of the student’s memoir poems was set up with their edited, stylized, and connected photograph and readied for presentations at Jeremiah’s. The presentations went very well. Jeremiah was very happy to have us and both Digital Communications classes were very thankful. The overall turnout was great!  In addition, the administrative team received a private reading of several of the best poems and portraits at the high school later in the next week.

Below is an example of a personal memoir and portrait.


Why Don’t You Understand?

By Delaney Finderson

My sister and I

Very similar and so different

Constantly asked if we are twins

And yet, how can they not see

What I see?

I am starry-eyed – she is stormy

Two sides of the same coin

But one side has lost its luster and grown older

The other has a newly minted sheen

Claims, accusations, fights

Screams, tears, and now I can smell my own fear

I am afraid.

Why am I afraid?

Why don’t you understand?

An angry slam of a door

After a confrontation

The same door, reopened not long after

All that’s left is an empty room and an open window

Wind whistling by

A search, a fight, and acceptance

Why am I afraid?

Why don’t you understand?

A slow build

Apologies, forgiveness, forgetfulness

Quiet, excitement, happiness

Several months go by

The coin is flat

A sudden meltdown

A blast of anger

Screaming, crying, storm clouds

Why am I afraid?

Why don’t you understand?

Another day

Another week

Too many days to count

It’s been over a year, my sister.

Why don’t you understand?

A face-to-face

A heart-to-heart

The first in months

And the truth comes out

There is nothing left to lose

And she wants….

To leave.

To leave me.

To leave us.

Why didn’t I understand?

Too many times-

It happened too fast

I couldn’t follow

The thought pattern behind

The way you acted

The way you spoke

Or even the way you looked at me.

Now my sister says she wanted to meet God

She said I never loved her

How was she so stormy?

Was I truly that starry-eyed

That she could not see…

The love for her

In me?

Why don’t I understand?

I’m so lost and sad

I plead

I beg

I scream

Don’t leave me

I will lose my sister

And I still won’t understand why

Please don’t leave me…

My sister and I

We are two sides of the same coin

One is scarred and sad

And the other has lost its luster and holds the edges of rust

What can I do?

Again forgiveness

This time from the other side

An understanding

Promises exchanged

She isn’t leaving

Progress is made

Now we both understand

We are stepping into the light now

It’s slow steps

But we are holding hands

I can see the light in her eyes

And I know it’s shining in mine too

My sister and I

We are two sides of the same coin

But the coin is broken

We are sisters

I am me.

She is her.

We are sisters, same blood, same thoughts

My sister is always there for me

And now I promise

I will always fight to keep that light alive in her eyes

I will make sure she sees and feels how much I care for her

I will always ensure her happiness

And I will protect her.

I love her.

My baby sister


2nd Annual Global Grit Health Fair

Facilitators:  Mrs. Buchs, Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Lapham, Ms. Pierce, Ms. Van Straten

How can we make DeKalb County a healthier place?

Thanks to DeKalb New Tech’s freshmen file_000-2class, our county hosted its 2nd Annual Global Grit Health Fair. DeKalb New Tech freshmen students hosted the health fair at the Auburn YMCA over the lunch hours. Students created and organized 17 different informational booths to promote healthy living. Some topics covered included: analyzing food labels and what to look for, looking beyond the number of calories, proper lifting techniques, low cost games that get you moving, recognizing the signs of unhealthy eating, the effects of smoking, and many more. Along with the 17 students booths were 11 outside vendor booths of whom were formally invited by the students.

fair-booth-iiThe 2nd Annual Global Grit Health Fair was brought about by the World Bio, Consumer Communications, and Visual Verbal Communications classes. Students analyzed the 2012 DeKalb County Health Assessment and Indiana Indicators. These documents showed students our community is not practicing healthy living; therefore, the students decided they wanted to host a health fair to inform and educate our community on ways to practice good health. With this project containing multiple disciplines including: Biology, Geography and History of the World, English, Art, and Business, students applied their knowledge and skills in planning and organizing this event. Students educated the public on healthy living using their Biology and Geography knowledge, students created attractive booths with a transformational art piece to captivate their audience using their art knowledge and skills, students advertised the event, collected door prizes, and secured outside vendors using their business knowledge and skills, and students read Chew on This, an informational book about the history of the fast food industry. Students applied their knowledge from all classes to host this successful event.

fair-booth-xAttendance to the 2nd Annual Global Grit Health Fair was estimated to be about 60 to 75 guests. The DeKalb New Tech freshmen class would like to thank all that attended, and hope their guests enjoyed themselves just as much as the students did, especially Drake Dangler, a DeKalb New Tech freshman. Dangler described the project as “so fun it didn’t even feel like a project!”

The DeKalb New Tech Freshmen Facilitator team is very happy with the students’ work in implementing and applying their learned knowledge and skills to host such a fun and informational event! The students successfully completed their task in making DeKalb County a healthier place. Look for our 3rd Annual Global Grit Health Fair in the fall of 2017!

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The Science of Food

Facilitators:  Ms. Oberlin and Ms. Schrock

On Wednesday, October 5th, New Tech students in our combined chemistry and agriculture classes (AgriChem and Agri ICP) had the opportunity to tour the DeBrand Fine Chocolates factory. The trip came on the heels of a culinary science fair which showcased students’ understanding of chemistry principles and the use of those principles in food science.file_002

In preparation for the culinary science fair, the classes studied chemistry principles that are typically found in food. They also examined food on a commercial level, specifically researching factories, packaging materials, and marketing. For the final project, students were given a chemistry principle and asked to demonstrate that principle using food. After a lot of hard work, the students presented their principles and food samples to teachers and administrators at the culinary science fair.

The trip to DeBrand’s allowed students to see the subjects they had been studying in action. They were able to observe several chemical and commercial elements of chocolate production and, of course, taste a wide variety of delicious samples.

Civil War Days – American Studies

American Studies with Mr. Comfort and Mr. Murdock

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On Friday, September 23, 2016, the American Studies class from DeKalb New Tech attended Civil War Days in Angola, Indiana. The students were introduced to professional reenactors such as Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass. Further, the students were introduced to mourning rituals, a battlefield aid station, canon fire, and Civil War era dances. Lastly, era-specific food and drink was served throughout the encampment.
This community partnership was created in conjunction with a 19th Century Conflict and Crisis project.

Here We Go!

Welcome to the DeKalb New Tech blog!  We are excited to share our journey of professional, authentic, and relevant learning experiences with you!  This blog is intended to be a collaboration between our students, staff, parents, and community partners.  

DeKalb New Tech is a small learning community at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Indiana.  We are in our 5th year of implementation as a New Tech Network school.  We serve students in grades 9-12 in DNT and are part of a larger New Tech Pathway at DeKalb County Central United School District which includes Waterloo Discover Academy and DeKalb Middle School Fusion.  

Why? How? What?


We believe students need to build real-world skills, develop a growth mindset, and graduate with the qualifications to thrive in future endeavors.


We empower student through professional authentic, and relevant learning opportunities which allows students to practice the skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.


We engage in project-based learning with a community focus.

At DeKalb New Tech, we want our students and staff to engage in professional, authentic, and relevant learning experiences.  We strive to go far beyond the textbook and bring education to life.  Whenever possible, we connect with community partners who interact with our students and provide authenticity to the learning.  


  • Emphasize collaboration and teamwork
  • Demonstrate learning by presenting in front of authentic audiences
  • Develop self-advocacy by pitching and promoting project ideas
  • Foster integrity


  • Become contributing citizens by engaging in community partnerships
  • Problem-solve and think critically throughout the various layers of a project
  • Promote an environment of curious exploration
  • Create unique work


  • Connect topics to students’ lives
  • Pose real world issues in projects
  • Experience course content
  • Develop skills for success in any career

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