From iPads to added science classes, west-metro area high school students will find something new at school next week.
West-metro high school students will find ramped-up science classes, more high-tech gadgets and new class schedules when they return to school Tuesday.
Here are some of the new things at local high schools this fall:
Principals: Steve Hill and Andy Beaton
Expected enrollment: 1,700 at Jefferson; 1,600 at Kennedy
What's new: The biggest difference Bloomington high school students will see is the first schedule change in 15 years.
School days will move from four classes a day to six 55-minute classes a day, with a modified schedule twice a week that will only have three 90-minute classes plus an academic seminar or homeroom class. The change was designed largely to save money because it allow for staffing cuts.
Both schools are making progress on outfitting every class with Smartboards, with Jefferson installing 14 of the high-tech boards over the summer and Kennedy installing 16.
Jefferson also is introducing a robotics class in a push toward offering more science and technology classes, Hill said.
At Kennedy, Beaton said hybrid courses will be expanded to include more than 20 classes, alternating between in-class learning and online learning.
Principal: Tom Erickson
Expected enrollment: 340
What's new: Students will find a newly renovated auditorium this fall at Central High School. The old auditorium was gutted and renovated over the summer. The updated facility includes a new state-of-the-art sound system. The district is also installing air-conditioning throughout the school, although Erickson said the work may not be wrapped up until next year.
"It's uncomfortable," he said. "It's definitely a project that needed to happen."
About a dozen Smartboards also will be installed for the first time this fall, giving students access to the high-tech white boards.
Principals: Tim Dorway and David Brecht
Expected enrollment: 1,570 at Chanhassen; 1,250 at Chaska
What's new: Facebook and Twitter won't be banned for Chanhassen and Chaska teens this year.
School leaders decided last year to be more progressive with their social media policy, Dorway said, by not blocking social media sites.
"We feel we have a responsibility to teach students how to use them appropriately," he said.
Except for this year's seniors, all high school students now will be required to complete an additional class -- a project-based "capstone" course in either arts and communication, global studies, health and social sciences or science, technology, engineering and math. The classes will provide a closer connection with area businesses, bringing in business leaders through mentoring or as classroom speakers.
Principal: Matt Schoen
Expected enrollment: 785
What's new: Students will have a chance to take several new courses, such as a fourth college-level writing class or a pre-engineering class. Also, 10 juniors and seniors will pilot a program using iPads for online learning.
Schoen said the school is also studying the impact of streamlining grading requirements and assessments for ninth-graders this year to give students just starting high school uniform expectations across all courses and classes.
Principal: Conn McCartan
Expected enrollment: 3,180
What's new: Eden Prairie High School is getting more high-tech.
The high school will unveil a high-tech global learning center that will feature flat-panel screens, a sound field and high-tech cameras to allow students to use laptops to interact with others over the Internet. For example, students will be able to practice Mandarin Chinese with students at a Chinese school via the interactive lab.
"They can reach out beyond our walls," McCartan said.
The renovated computer lab was funded by the Stoebner Family Foundation and the AVI Corp.
Principal: Bruce Locklear
Expected enrollment: 1,900
What's new: Edina High School will add a new program called AVID this fall.
It stands for "Advancement Via Individual Determination" and is designed to help low-income or minority students prepare for college. The program is being expanded from the district's middle schools to the high school this fall.
Principal: Patty Johnson
Expected enrollment: 1,900
What's new: Johnson is in her first year as principal of Hopkins High School, but she isn't new to the school.
The last three years, she's been an assistant and associate principal at the school. She now replaces Principal Willie Jett, who took an assistant superintendent position in St. Paul's schools.
Also new this year, all Hopkins High School students will have an adviser who will meet with them each Monday. Students also will get additional academic assistance on Thursdays and teachers will begin professional learning communities.
Principal: Dave Adney
Expected enrollment: 2,850
What's new: Minnetonka High School, opening with its largest student body ever, plans to continue to focus on academic success for all students, following up on an initiative last year that saw failure rates drop by more than 50 percent schoolwide.
It will be expanding math- and science-based curriculum into several disciplines, implementing ideas used in STEM schools and Project Lead the Way research. Later in the year it will begin testing new online classes for selected upperclassmen, including a course in biomechanics.
As part of its International Studies program, 60 students will be visiting from Beijing for one month beginning in late January. They will take classes with Minnetonka students and help with language immersion programs at the district's middle and elementary schools. Three Minnetonka instructors were in Beijing over the summer teaching classes there to prepare the students for their trip to America.
Principal: Keith Randklev
Expected enrollment: 925
What's new: Walking in the door next week, Mound Westonka High School students will see something new: A digital sign greeting them outside the school off County Road 110 in Minnetrista. The sign, funded mostly by booster clubs, will promote school events throughout the year.
New technology also will greet students in the classrooms. The school added about 50 iPads and 30 iPod touch devices this year to use in math, reading, science and world language classes to better engage students. The devices, funded by the school district, will allow students to use applications as part of their classroom lessons.
"We're hoping that as we have that engagement, we'll see the enjoyment for learning ... and achievement improve," Randklev said.
Principal: David Benson
Expected enrollment: 895
What's new: Orono High School students have a chance to take several new classes this year, including an engineering course and a music course that will use 20 iPads to help students study music theory.
Other new classes include introductory theater and art classes -- part of the school's emphasis on expanding opportunities for students beyond core subjects, Benson said.
Principal: Joshua Fuchs
Expected enrollment: 1,200
What's new: Like the new students, the principal will be getting to know his way around the school this fall.
Fuchs, who comes from an Oakland, Calif., high school where he was assistant principal, replaces Principal Stephen West, who left to take an administrative post with the Eden Prairie School District. After nine years in education, Fuchs said he'll bring experience working extensively on equitable education issues and an interest in staying long-term in Richfield.
"I'm looking for a job I can spend my career at," he said. "I'm excited to work with a team of teachers and staff that's excited about their jobs."
The school also got a new football field with artificial turf for the first time.
"It's a beautiful field," Fuchs said.
Principal: Rob Metz
Expected enrollment: 1,390
What's new: A major transformation at St. Louis Park High School will begin after the school received a national grant last fall to redesign the school.
A "learning lab" -- modeled after college learning centers which offer everything from tutoring to career advice to computers students can drop in and use -- will open this fall. The remodeled classroom will be a "one-stop shop," Metz said.
Students also will see a change in their schedules on Thursdays and Fridays, when an advising period has been added. A chemical health specialist will begin helping students who are struggling academically or dealing with chemical abuse.
And school staff will begin teaming up with area businesses to redesign electives for next year to better prepare students for ever-evolving careers. "You need to be connecting with the real world," Metz said, "and the only way is to sit down together."
Principal: Mark Fredericksen
Expected enrollment: 1,050
What's new: Ninth-graders at Waconia High School will have a new science requirement, expanded from a year of science to a year and a half. The extra semester of science meant the school had to add a second computer lab, Fredericksen said. The extra half-semester will require students to spend more time online working on applied physics and engineering.
Principal: Scott Fitzsimonds
Expected enrollment: 465
What's new: The biggest change at the school this fall will be a switch in class schedules: Students will move from taking four 88-minute classes to taking six 55-minute classes. The change was designed largely to save money and resulted in cutting two teaching positions, but it will not add or subtract time from the school day, Fitzsimonds said.
The school is also adding two college-level classes to 11 it already offered in science, agriculture, English, math and social studies, which students can take to earn college credit.
Principal: Mike Trewick
Expected enrollment: 3,200
What's new: Wayzata students will see more extensive use of technology in school this fall, both in and outside the classroom.
Four computer labs were upgraded with new computers, and flat-screen TVs were installed in hallways to communicate events and other messages to students. In classrooms, more students will use clickers to give instant responses to test questions or homework questions, giving teachers instant feedback on their Smartboards.
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141