In September, 125 freshmen will walk into the Martin Van Buren High School building. They won’t be students at Van Buren, but rather a new co-located school there. When they graduate in 2020, they will have not only a high school diploma, but also a college degree.
The new school, Business Technology Early College High School, or BTECH, will try to offer what the school’s founders call “a different type of high school experience,” which, rather than prepare students for college, will actually give them some of that education, so when they graduate, employers seek them out.
“Our aspirations for our students is that they will be highly competitive, and instead of knock on doors, employers will knock on their doors,” said Hoa Tu, BTECH’s principal.
Designed like Brooklyn’s PTECH and emphasizing a STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — curriculum, the school is in partnership with SAP, an international company that specializes in business enterprise software, and Queensborough Community College. Students will enroll in dual-credited courses and participate in work-based learning experiences, such as mentoring, job site visits, apprenticeship and internships. Successful completion of the high school and college degree programs earns the students opportunities for employment at SAP or in the thousands of companies around the globe who run SAP software.
The two majors will be in computer information systems and internet technology. First-year students will be introduced to both, but will declare which to pursue by the end of year two with their major locked in by the end of their fourth year. College classes will begin in the third year.
Starting in the first year, students will work toward receiving an internet and computer core certification, or IC3.
“It’s the first computer certification to be recognized nationally,” said Ken Dornbaum, a technology teacher at the school.
By the end of the second year, students will also be Microsoft Office-certified.
Knatasha Hunter, who will be teaching math and business at BTECH, said the school has tried to combine the required state core curriculum for high schools.
“We looked to see what Regents exams they need, how many English, science classes and so on, and then looked to see which college courses can serve as both high school and college credits classes,” she said, adding that high school core curriculum classes will be accelerated.
Tu said about 89 percent of BTECH’s students are coming from public schools all over the city and about 13 percent have individualized education programs.
The first class will have 125 students and BTECH expects to eventually serve about 660 students in grades 9 through 14. College classes will take place on QCC’s campus, while core classes will be at the school’s Van Buren location, which will be on the third floor of the Queens Village building. But Tu said that will probably have to be expanded.
“It looks like we will grow out onto the entire third floor eventually.” she said.
Orientation for new students is Aug. 26 and 27. Teachers report on Sept. 2 and the first day for all classes is Sept. 4.
Tu said staff members were still setting up the classrooms, but that they expect to be ready well before the first day of school.
“We’ve been working fast and furious,” she said. “The beauty of technology is that we can work anywhere. We have our students, our curriculum. We’re all set.”