July 20, 2020

Indianapolis Eastside building transitions from industry to education as new Purdue Polytechnic High School home

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The first class of Purdue Polytechnic High School students now has a home to graduate from in May with the opening of a permanent site for the STEM-focused charter school.

Watch Building a Pipeline: PPHS Origins Story to learn how and why Purdue Polytechnic High School is revolutionizing education and changing students’ lives.

Speeches by Purdue University President Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, and a message from U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, marked the opening of the PR Mallory Building as the new, renovated home of Purdue Polytechnic High School during an event Monday (July 20).

Education and community development leaders also spoke at the morning ribbon-cutting.

Scott Bess, head of the Purdue Polytechnic High School, said the charter school now has a home it can be proud of.

“When we selected the PR Mallory campus as our permanent home several years ago, we knew it would be a long journey to get to where we stand today,” he said. “Frankly, it was a leap of faith then that a long abandoned, neglected building could be turned into an asset to the community.”

ward-pphs Shatoya Ward, Purdue Polytechnic High School principal, speaks outside the PR Mallory Building during its opening as the new location of the Purdue Polytechnic High School for the fall semester. Download image

The Purdue Polytechnic High School is a tuition-free, public charter school network focused on providing underrepresented students authentic STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and math) experiences that will prepare them for a successful future, especially at Purdue University if they qualify and choose to attend. There are now three Purdue Polytechnic high schools across central and northern Indiana to help better academically prepare underrepresented students.

“We have always said we wanted to not just be in a community, but to be part of the community,” Bess said. “Our students now have direct connections for their project work that can simultaneously benefit their education and the community.”

The building is a big change for Purdue Polytechnic High School students who have studied in an old factory location their first year and spent the last two years in a downtown Indianapolis location at the Circle Centre Mall.

Students, parents and local residents were able to tour the building later in the day.

Brooke Huntington, assistant dean of engagement, statewide and workforce development for Purdue (University) Polytechnic Institute, said Purdue worked with the Englewood Community Development Corp, the John H. Boner Center, the city of Indianapolis, The Mind Trust, and the school’s co-tenants, Paramount Schools.

hogsett-pphs Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett addresses the crowd in attendance Monday for the opening of Purdue Polytechnic High School’s new permanent location in the PR Mallory Building. The event also included speeches from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels and others, and a message from U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. Download image

Huntington and Rob Wynkoop, associate vice president of administrative operations at Purdue University, agreed that the site offered the opportunity to positively impact more than education.

“In spite of all the challenges with the building when we started this process, there wasn’t a better location for Purdue Polytechnic High School to call home,” Wynkoop said. “It serves students that might not otherwise get an opportunity to get this kind of hands-on learning and education.”

He said the proximity to downtown Indianapolis and the partnership with Englewood Community Development Corp. makes the opportunity ideal.

Huntington said, “I am absolutely floored by how far the project has advanced even beyond our original vision. I can’t wait to see it filled with our amazing current and future Polytechnic High School students.”

The cooperative effort pooled $38 million in funding for the redevelopment of the building, which has seen time during the last 120 years as a home for the Indianapolis Indians baseball team, the site of Wonderland Amusement Park and battery factory location for longtime Eastside employer, P.R. Mallory and Co. Inc.

The site includes a main 120,000-square-foot administration building for Purdue Polytechnic High School and the Paramount School of Excellence and a secondary, 70,000-square-foot building housing for-profit tenants.

The main building had been vacant for almost 30 years.

Purdue Polytechnic High School opened its first Indianapolis charter school in 2017 and its second in Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple neighborhood in 2019. The upcoming Purdue Polytechnic High School in South Bend will replicate the innovative model that has been serving students successfully in the Indianapolis area.

The STEM-focused schools provide students with experiences including internships, industry projects, dual-credit courses and technical certifications.

Thirty-one seniors from what will be Purdue Polytechnic High School Indianapolis’ first graduating class arrived on Purdue University’s campus last week for a monthlong program in which they are getting a taste of college life.

All attendees will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing during the time of remarks and the tours of the building. Masks will be provided.

Writer, Media contact: Brian Huchel, bhuchel@purdue.edu

Sources: Rob Wynkoop, 765-494-6221, wynkoop@purdue.edu 

Brooke Huntington, 317-513-1855, bhunting@purdue.edu

Charli Renckly-DeWhitt, 317-506-3250, cdewhitt@pphs.purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Photos and video B-roll of the event and the PR Mallory building are available at https://purdue.university/30rptYC.

Note to Journalists: Photos and video B-roll of the event and the PR Mallory building are available at https://purdue.university/30rptYC.

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