HENRY COUNTY (WSLS) - Starting next fall, Bassett High freshman Sergio Pacheto and Anna Hatchett will spend half of each school day in what is now the school's library participating in the new project-based learning program called Bengal Tech Academy.
Both say they're looking forward to learning in a new way and hope to develop better communication skills in order to be better prepared for college.
"I'm a really shy person, so I feel like if I join Bengal Tech I can gain some more experience talking to people," Pacheto explained.
"College is all about giving presentations, so I want to be a great public speaker," said Hatchett.
Each semester, two subjects will be taught in the academy and the projects students do will connect the two subjects. For the first semester, English and History will be taught.
English teacher Kim Engel will be part of the academy.
She says she hopes this new way of learning will help students take more of interest in their education.
"All of our projects and activities will be pairs," Engel said. "So, for example if we do an English persuasive essay we might choose a history topic."
The academy program just started at Magna Vista, the county's other high school, but Engel says from talking to the teachers there students do seem to be more engaged in what they're learning.
Bengal Academy will be overseen by Frankeeta Tatum, who also currently oversees the program at Magna Vista.
"The project based learning approach that Bengal Tech uses very much mirrors [the students'] college experience," Tatum pointed out.
100 freshmen and sophomores will be accepted the first year, then 100 juniors will be added the next year, and 100 seniors the year after that.
The academy could also be a shot in the arm for the county's economy.
Lisa Fultz, executive director of the West Piedmont Workforce Development Board, says this will help students be bettered prepared to enter the workforce or go to college and get degrees that they can use to get jobs in the community.
She hopes this will help encourage them to come back to Southside rather than go elsewhere for jobs.
"It will help our community to be more competitive with our workforce," Fultz stated. "So, we're just really supportive of it and really excited."
For more information about Bengal Tech Academy or to apply, click contact the school at (276) 629-1731.