Purdue Polytechnic High School enables students to map their success

Student-directed learning in project-based environment makes a world of difference

Casady Williamson always planned for her daughters to attend Catholic high school. When her eldest, Audrey, reached eighth grade, Williamson learned about the new Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis. With its STEM-focused curriculum and preferred admission to Purdue University, enrolling Audrey in PPHS appealed to Williamson.

Audrey developed a fascination for robotics in grade school and insisted she would be attending Purdue University to persistently pursue her dream of working in robotics engineering and mechatronics. Williamson worried that Audrey wasn’t challenged enough in her traditional private school setting.

“She has always been academically focused,” Williamson says. “She’s interested in learning and has always been a good student. At PPHS she could learn at her own pace. She was already talking about wanting to go to Purdue University for college, so it seemed like a natural fit.”

Initially nervous about sending Audrey to a public school, Williamson quickly saw changes in her daughter that confirmed her decision to enroll Audrey in PPHS. Audrey became engrossed in hands-on learning that integrated with her interest in robotics. She’d always been a motivated student, but PPHS empowered her to self-direct her education and shape her future. Surrounded by like-minded peers, she formed enduring friendships.

“Her whole demeanor changed,” Williamson says. “She became so much more confident and really broke out of her shell. She’s always been smart but before she was almost afraid to show how smart she was.”

Audrey will graduate this spring as part of the first senior class at PPHS. Admitted to Purdue, she plans to get a jump-start on college through the Early Start program with classes beginning in July. She got a taste of the college life last summer through a PPHS program that allowed her to live in an on-campus residence hall for four weeks while enrolled in a college-level course at no cost.  

“She wouldn’t even apply to other colleges,” Williamson says. “It was always just Purdue. So the chance to experience the campus while hanging out with her friends and taking a class, it was a dream come true for Audrey.”

Williamson advises parents considering PPHS for their child to learn more about how it differs from a traditional classroom. For self-motivated students like Audrey, there are no limits to what they can learn. Project-based learning challenged Audrey in ways she would not have experienced in a traditional school setting. Not only did she embrace the innovative educational methods, she finally felt a sense of belonging, too. 

“She found her people and she found her place,” Williamson says. “PPHS made a world of difference in her high school education.” 

For more information on student registration, donations or business partnerships, and media requests, contact PPHS Network Office at info@pphs.purdue.edu


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