Studebaker's new tenant is polytechnic high school

By The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND — A polytechnic high school is set to become the newest tenant in a massive South Bend building that once served as the Studebaker Corp.'s main assembly plant.

The Purdue Polytechnic High School South Bend will open its doors this fall to 125 ninth-grade students at the former Studebaker plant, which is part of entrepreneur Kevin Smith’s Renaissance District technology park.

The sprawling structure had previously sat largely unused since the former South Bend-based automaker shuttered its automotive assembly line in 1963, leaving 25,000 people unemployed.

The charter school will be located above an area where Purdue currently has a polytechnic college site, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Purdue Polytechnic was founded by Purdue University with a focus in science, technology, engineering and math. The charter network received approval from the Indiana Charter School Board in December to open the South Bend school as its third charter campus. The two other campuses are both located in Indianapolis.

The school aims to enroll low-income and minority students, but all are encouraged to apply for enrollment regardless of their financial status or current academic standing. The first round of applications are open until April 3.

A grade level will be added each year, with the high school eventually enrolling up to 600 students.

Purdue Polytechnic Head of School Scott Bess said the school’s vision of education aligns with what Smith says he is trying to create in the building.

“The vibe of the building fits what we do with entrepreneurship,” Bess said. “It won’t feel like a typical school for students. It will feel more like a tech-startup.”

Bess said students will have access to the university’s classroom and lab spaces, making it easier to earn college credit.

More on