DeKalb New Tech

Professional, Authentic, Relevant

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

Generation DIY – A Community Partner’s Perspective

Special thanks to Nicole Liter, DNT Community Partner, for writing this post!

When I first heard about the project the DeKalb teachers were embarking on with incoming freshman, my initial thoughts were, “this could be a huge undertaking with minimal success.”  With my past experiences in teaching 8th graders, I did not have a lot of optimism for the majority in this project.  Let me be completely honest, this age group has a reputation for being immature and tend to lack concern or interest in the preparation for their distant futures.  However, this is not true for all in this age group.  

The 70 students in the Freshman Tech class, i.e. Generation Z or “Gen La-Z” (as they have been Gen DIY 3labeled), were presented with the task to produce an action plan to demonstrate how they would spend their next 4 years of high school becoming successful and prepared upon graduation time.   Thus, breaking that La-Z stereotype.  The plan had to consist of specific ways they would incorporate Agency, Collaboration, and Oral Communication.  Furthermore, this was assigned on the first day of school!  

The students were grouped together and had to present their completed plans just 8 school days later.  I and two other community leaders were given the opportunity to speak with the entire class the first day of school.  We were able to give our insight into what the community is looking for in the next generation’s workforce. This was a notable way to show the students that this wasn’t just an assignment handed down by their teachers, but collaboration with teachers to demonstrate to the students how important we believe their own successes are and that the entire community has a profound interest in their futures.  

Gen DIY 1The student groups presented their action plans to DeKalb’s administration where groups were then narrowed down to the top five.  The three of us were privy to observing the final 5 groups and deciding on the very best.  And, I must say, I was highly impressed with all presentations.  The focus and collaboration it took these 14 and 15 year-olds is significant and noteworthy.  They all did an amazing job.  Some of the ideas were very specific and innovative.  I was amazed at their thought processes, their communication skills, and their obvious interest in presenting the best plan possible.  This project is definitely one that Dekalb should continue with community partnerships.  It has proven to be an effective way to show support to our younger generation and confirm to them that they are an important and crucial part of our society.  

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