By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Rome –– Sister Rosaire Anne DeMare, CSJ, of St Peter’s School in Rome knew that her school was in desperate need of new computer equipment. So when St. Peter’s was awarded $5000 in a computer technology package last August she was sure that someone “up there” was looking after them.
“Our current network server was quite old and not working well. It was causing all sorts of difficulties,” said Sister Rosaire, who also serves as the library and media specialist at St. Peter’s. “When we got the money, I said, ‘God takes care of us.’”
On Aug. 30 ten schools from Oneida and Onondaga Counties received computer equipment through a New York State Lottery program called Education Wins. The program, which advocates computers as an integral part of a child’s education, takes old lottery tickets and recycles them into a “second chance lottery” for schools. To be chosen to win a computer package, schools first must be nominated and then entered into a random drawing. Casey Sprock, a former student of St. Peter’s, nominated his alma mater. He and Sister Rosaire were at the drawing, held at the New York State Fair, when St. Peter’s won the grand prize of $5000 worth of equipment.
Sister Rosaire explained that, at first, she was a little hesitant about how legitimate the contest was. “When we heard that St. Peter’s was nominated we were a bit skeptical. But when we were invited to the drawing at the fair I knew we had to go,” explained Sister Rosaire. “When they called St. Peter’s, I couldn’t believe we were the grand prize winner.”
With its winnings, St. Peter’s received a Macintosh OS10 server, which connects all computers throughout the entire building, and a Hewitt Packard Color Laserjet printer, each valued around $2500. The equipment, which arrived at the school in September, has turned out to be very valuable to the 193 students enrolled in grades K-6 and the 66 Pre-K students. Each students, via the new network, has their own personal folder where they can save their work. St. Peter’s library can also order books from another school if there is something a student is looking for. Another feature of the new equipment, as Sister Rosaire pointed out, is the new and engaging learning opportunities it facilitates.
“The network server allows students to participate in accelerated reading and math programs. Students can take quizzes and do practice problems and enter them into the scanner to check them,” said Sister Rosaire. “This new equipment really allows students to expand their learning.”
Although the server is a great educational tool for students, it is the HP Color Laserjet printer which seems to be the most popular –– as demonstrated by Marguerite Maurer’s fifth grade class. They were using the printer to complement their “State Projects,” adding visual aids such as graphs and colored pictures to their reports. Mariah Mandiago, who worked on the computers and printer for her report on Utah, showed off her pictures, so clear they looked like an actual photo.
“The computers are fun and I learn a lot too,” exclaimed Mariah.
The new computer equipment also proves beneficial to the school newspaper, The Redwing Flyer. The capabilities of the server and the printer allow the students to be creative with the paper. With the technology of the scanner and a digital camera, they can add pictures of students and graphics. Sister Rosaire hopes that this monthly publication will be an important part of the school, giving students something to accomplish together and build teamwork. St. Peter’s can now say that they are a “wired school.” With about 70 computers throughout the building, John Della Contrada, principal of St. Peter’s, is proud not only of the new technology St. Peter’s offers its students, but also all the achievements of his school.
“St. Peter’s has a high reputation among Catholic schools,” Della Contrada noted, while pointing out another success of St. Peter’s –– its faculty. Maurer recently received the honor of winning the 2001-2002 Veterans of Foreign Wars National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. She was recognized by the VFW as one of the best educators –– one who instills a sense of national pride in her students.
Everything is running smoothly at St. Peter’s. The new equipment has turned out to be valuable to the school and creates an environment where it is fun to learn. As Sister Rosaire simply stated, “it’s a wonderful thing.”
St. Peter’s was not the only Catholic school in Oneida and Onondaga Counties to receive computer products through the August drawing. Both St. Mary’s School in Cortland, and Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville, each won $2500 in equipment.