A small school with big ideas is coming to the Norcross Cluster! Paul Duke STEM HS is a theme high school, opening in Norcross in August of 2018. The school’s focus will be on rigorous and relevant applications of technology in science, engineering, and mathematics (together, known as STEM) in three main areas— Applied Engineering and Robotics; Communication, Art, and Design; and Digital and Innovative Technology.
Located at 5850 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, the school will give much-needed relief to Norcross HS as students in the cluster will have the option of attending either school. (If space is available, students outside the cluster who provide their own transportation may have the option to attend.) Opening with fewer than 1,000 students, Paul Duke STEM HS will offer a unique “smaller school” experience.
A smaller school experience creates a learning community where teachers really get to know their students. The students are closely connected to each other due to common experiences, fostering a positive learning environment. When combined with a specific focus area, such as STEM, a small school also supports a focus on each individual student’s academic success as well as a commitment to connecting students with engaging, relevant learning.
Paul Duke’s technology-infused STEM curriculum was developed with students and their future in mind. “The school will feature collaborative and connected classes; active, hands-on learning; and learning with and through technology,” says Dr. Jonathon Wetherington, Paul Duke’s principal. He says high expectations, high-tech skills, and high-reward options will help prepare graduates for college and career.
The new school will feature a non-traditional schedule with Fridays set aside as a digital learning day, allowing students to work from home or school. And the building itself is different, too. Three learning labs—one for each floor— are attached to computer labs with nearby collaboration rooms. Each of the three STEM programs has dedicated space for instruction and hands-on learning, with a makerspace, a design studio, and an advanced computing lab. Large science labs support research and investigation, while fine arts spaces and the theater are designed for collaboration.
Other differences... Students in the same class may work on different assignments. And, students will have opportunities to apply their learning through in-class projects, internships, and design challenges. All students will progress through a four-year research program that begins with seminar courses and culminates with capstone projects and internships. Budding entrepreneurs will be able to pursue a start-up. Paul Duke students also will have extensive opportunities to take Advanced Placement courses and earn industry certifications, certificates from colleges, and even a two-year college degree while still in high school.
Community advisors— including representatives from large and small tech companies (many housed in the nearby Technology Park) as well as officials from the cities of Norcross and Peachtree Corners— have supported the development of the school and will continue to provide guidance, learning opportunities, content experts, and other support.
Starting in October, school and district leaders began conducting community meetings at Norcross Cluster schools and at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center. Prospective students also had the opportunity to participate in an initial interest survey that tells students more about the school while also giving school leaders feedback regarding student interest.
Because there has been a great deal of interest in Paul Duke, the number of students who can attend will be limited to 400 students per grade level in year one. Dec. 8 is the initial deadline for students in the cluster to submit commitment forms. That deadline may be extended if openings remain at one or more grade levels. If registration exceeds the projected 400 students per grade level in year one, GCPS will host a lottery that follows the current process in place for other schools and programs supported by a lottery. Each registrant would be assigned a lottery number that would be used should a lottery be required.
For current Norcross students, course registration for Paul Duke will begin in January. Rising 9th graders from Pinckneyville MS and Summerour MS with plans to attend Paul Duke will complete the course selection process during articulation activities at the middle school.
Find registration FAQs online.
Need more information? Contact Dr. Jonathon Wetherington, principal, at email@example.com.
eSTEAM prepares 8th graders for Norcross Cluster options
This fall, Pinckneyville MS and Summerour MS launched eSTEAM Academies to help prepare their 8th graders for learning opportunities they'll have in high school in the Norcross Cluster, including the Junior Achievement Academy and International Baccalaureate programs at Norcross HS and STEM Pathways at the new Paul Duke STEM HS. The school-within-a-school programs focus on entrepreneurship (that's the e) as well as the now-familiar instructional focus of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and the Arts. Through project-based learning, students in the academies explore careers in areas like digital art, marketing, music technology, coding, film, and robotics.