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Higher-tech curriculum wins approval at Ligonier Valley

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By Nicole Chynoweth
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Additional tech-savvy curriculum is coming to Ligonier Valley High School.

At its meeting on Monday, the school board approved “Zulama: Games Through the Ages” to pilot in the advanced emerging technology class next semester.

The course, developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, teaches computer programming and computer science through games from various time periods, such as ancient Egypt, according to high school Principal Tim Kantor.

Upperclassmen enrolled in the advanced emerging technology class will be the first to try out the course, which Kantor said is “project-based learning.” Next year, Kantor hopes to offer it to ninth-grade students.

The curriculum has upper level, semester-long courses that build upon the skills taught in the previous course. A series of skills courses allows students to explore several technology areas, such as three-dimensional design, mobile application development and game design, Kantor said. The next course gives students the chance to produce their own projects in a sort of “studio” setting, and the final course allows students to complete projects for real-world entities, such as a mobile application for a local business.

Superintendent Chris Oldham said the board will receive information about the skill courses in February or March for consideration, and the production studio course will be considered in the following school year.

The cost of “Zulama: Games Through the Ages,” which will total $4,300 at most, will be paid through the school's Richard King Mellon Foundation technology grant.

In other business, Oldham announced the last day for students in grades nine and 10 to register for the district's dual-enrollment associate degree program is Nov. 15. The program allows students to earn associate degrees from Penn Highlands Community College while in high school.

To complete the program, students must earn at least 61 college credits: 29 credits through dual-enrollment from Penn Highlands; 22 to 27 transfer credits through dual-enrollment from St. Francis University, Mt. Aloysius College or the University of Pittsburgh; and five to 10 credits through online courses with Penn Highlands, Oldham said.

The dual-enrollment classes are $50 per credit or less, and students pay Penn Highlands' credit rate for the online classes, Oldham said. The cost of the credits through the program can total under $4,500, Oldham said.

Incoming freshmen and sophomores in the college prep and advanced studies academic tracks are eligible to participate, Oldham said.

The next meeting will be held 7 p.m. Dec. 3 with a reorganization meeting at 6 p.m.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or

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