Lanier High Center Integrates Academics, Technology



SUGAR HILL -- Ask 18-year-old Nate Lewin what he learned in class today.

He'll smile and hand you his headphones, the sound of violins chirping and cymbals crashing through each earpiece.

The budding musician and senior at Lanier High School learned this week how to compose a one-minute "semi-orchestral piece" with music production software.

Lewin's project plays a small part in a bigger picture at the school: the facility's Center for Design and Technology.

Lanier High School recently received a $40,000 grant that will help administrators build on the two-year-old program that integrates reading, writing and mathematics skills with computer software.

It extends beyond music. The Center for Design and Technology umbrella includes software used for video journalism, digital movie making, photography, web development and programming.

The grant enables expansion of the program, according to Principal Kerensa Wing.

She said it will "support CDAT through teacher training and collaboration to integrate Gwinnett County Public School's curriculum with a project-based approach."

The Motorola Solutions Foundation awarded the grant as part of its program to support schools with funding for hands-on, innovative programs, science and math clubs, teacher training and mentoring programs.

Lanier High School's Center for Design and Technology--the only one in the district--involves instructors from all academic areas.

Language arts students used computer programming this week to build a website based on literature they studied.

Aaron Bien, 15, and Jose Avila, 14, designed a digital island complete with lapping waves based on their interpretation of the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game."

Classmate Ryan Prince, 14, designed a website that detailed a hunting journey inspired by the work of fiction.

Prince said he enjoyed the class. "It's great," he said. "You can put yourself on a work-like schedule. There's a lot of freedom I like that."

Instructor Mike Reilly said the CDAT program connects students like Prince to "the creative worlds of engineering, science and entertainment while emphasizing our core subject areas."

The recent grant, which will allow further expansion of the facility's CDAT, was announced through the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions Inc.

The Foundation announced earlier this year it would provide $5.5 million in funding to U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs through its grants.

For local students like Lewin, the young musician, it means more opportunities to continue doing what he loves.

Lewin said he enjoys being able to compose music at school. "It doesn't even feel like you're in class," he said. "It's a lot of fun."