Two innovative high schools open in Buffalo’s Bennett HS building

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As students headed back to class around the Buffalo Public School district Tuesday, some students joined local leaders to celebrate the launch of two innovative high schools inside the old Lewis J. Bennett High School building on Main Street.

Until the end of the last school year, Bennett High School operated as a traditional high school, but the district was having to consider closing it or selling the building to reopen as a charter school. Instead, the district was able to open two specialized high school programs in that space.

“We are celebrating the new emergence of the Lewis J Bennett High School for Innovative Technology and the Research Laboratory for Bioinformatics & Life Sciences,” said Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash at the start of the school day Tuesday.

The two new innovative high schools are among several program options the district has rolled out to provide more opportunities for specialty tracks for college or careers.

“When I came just two years ago, it was sort of a tale of two cities, two school systems,” Dr. Cash said. “You could choose some really good schools and then some that you felt like were the leftover choices. We’re changing all of that.”

“Now, every choice is an excellent choice for a motivated student who wants to further his or her education and start a really exciting career,” he explained. “This is where it all happens.”

Buffalo’s innovative high schools offer state of the art technology and course work, as well as internship opportunities, as part of the well rounded high school education.

“You have to meet the core requirements,” Dr. Cash said, “The four years of English and the history and the science and the mathematics and the world languages and so forth, that’s still going to absolutely be the core of the program, but then they’ll have all of these other courses and electives and concentrations that they can see what they want to focus in.”

That focus, along with community partnerships,will prepare students for careers in the industries that are growing in Western New York, like cyber security and medical research.

“We’re looking forward to developing our young students into the next generation for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” said Angela Cullen, Research Laboratory High School for Bioinformatics & Life Sciences principal.

As students embarked on those career paths Tuesday, local leaders had a chance to tour the school building and try out the next generation technology in the classrooms for themselves.

It was a proud moment for all who worked so hard to make the transition to the two new innovative high schools possible.

“It took some pain and it took some hard work, no question, but it’s the most precious feeling you can have to see that all this is coming together,” Dr. Cash said.

Dr. Cash touched on innovative high schools among many topics in his annual Welcome message for the district. You can watch his address in full by clicking on the video below. APP USERS | Click here to enable video.

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