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First class graduates from Purdue Polytechnic High School

About one-third of the 120 graduates will go on to attend Purdue University.

INDIANAPOLIS — The school building is the old Mallory factory on Washington Street on the near east side built 100 years ago. But the school concept is new.   

"What personally attracted me to the school was the project-based learning, and the different kinds of learning styles,” said Adrian Martinez, a senior at Purdue Polytechnic Institute Indianapolis. “So, I personally didn't strive well in a traditional classroom environment. So, I have an opportunity to come here and still be able to learn what I need to learn to graduate. It was just a game changer."

Martinez was among the first freshmen at Purdue Polytechnic High School four years ago. Now he's part of the first graduating class. Kayla Owens is also one the original students. Owen’s is headed to Purdue University this summer to major in computer information technology with a minor in marketing.

"It's very exciting to be to the finish line now,” said Owens. “I know I've been anticipating this moment. It's finally here, so I'm very anxious for graduation."

Purdue created the high school to provide a STEM-focused pipeline to West Lafayette, especially for underserved and minority students.    

"The student body here is very diverse,” said Martinez. “A lot of the student body is very self-driven and motivated to get their work done, which is something that you have to do at this school."

The learning model is industry project-based, with internships, dual credit courses, and technical certifications.  

Owens recalls the impact of what she learned from one of her first high school projects, working with the Indianapolis Zoo.

"My group decided to make a solution for water conservation, and it kind of made me realize how much water that the whole human race wastes,” said Owens.

Teachers at Purdue Polytechnic are referred to as coaches.  

"You don't have a bell that tells you it's time to go from this class to this class,” said LaTrice Crawford, Purdue Polytechnic High School College & Career Manager. “It's going to be you being the person that is responsible for getting yourself going. Coach is there to help you facilitate and to provide support." 

Purdue Polytechnic graduates its first class of about 120 students on June 11, with 40 of them going on to Purdue University.

Martinez will study mechanical engineering technology at Purdue. Becoming a Boilermaker is not a graduation given, but students who meet requirements are assured admission to many programs at Purdue.

Purdue Polytechnical High School is tuition-free and now operates three campuses: on East Washington Street in Indianapolis, and also in Broad Ripple and South Bend. 

Families can enroll here Enroll Indy – Streamlining the school enrollment process in Indianapolis