A Vision Becomes a Reality

Nov. 4-10, 2004
A Vision Becomes a Reality
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Ann’s School Holds Tech Rally

An air of excitement filled St. Ann’s School on Oct. 22. St. Ann’s was one of five schools in the diocese to receive a shipment of equipment from Seneca Data as part of the Diocesan Wireless Laptop Project. The project was kicked off with a tech rally. The rally, organized by Marisa Santaro, diocesan technology trainer, was geared to unveil the school technology plan while allowing the students to learn the capabilities of wireless technology. Nancy Tario, principal of St. Ann’s School, is very pleased with the plan. “I think it’s fantastic. The enthusiasm of the teachers and staff is great. It opens up many opportunities,” said Tario.

The other four schools — St. James, St. Patrick’s, St. Charles and Most Holy Rosary — also held tech rallies to introduce the new equipment. The rallies were held to generate excitement among the students and to inform them of what was happening. The rallies were also designed to help the student master each step in the journey of becoming well-rounded individuals, both personally and professionally.

John Cataldo, Diocesan Superinten-dent of the Syracuse Catholic Schools, is very excited about the Wireless Laptop Project. Last year, he had a vision of integrating technology into Catholic school classrooms. After examining the school curriculum, administrators, teachers, and parents discovered that students were exposed to less than 32 hours of technology per year. In an effort to increase the exposure of students to technology, a task force developed the Diocesan Wireless LapTop Project. The administrators, teachers and parents wanted to expand the “hands on” action for students. The task force met at St. Mary’s School in Clinton. They asked for a “request for a proposal” from the Apple, Dell, and Seneca Data companies. After analyzing the proposals, the task force found that Seneca Data offered the best price.

“The tech rally represents a culmination of many hours of concentrated efforts of parents, teachers and administrators that worked throughout the last school year and extensively during the summer to provide this experience for our students. The excitement affirms that all the hard work was worth the effort. I want to extend a sincere thank you to all parties that contributed to bringing technology into our classrooms,” Cataldo said at an earlier interview. The tech rally at St. Ann’s School began with six teachers leading the students into the gym, clapping to the beat of the song entitled “Get Ready For This.” Santaro led the children in waving their arms (the “Wave”) while encouraging them to cheer. She distributed purple and white pompoms to each child.

Tario welcomed the children and asked them: “What is a pep rally and what do you do at a pep rally?” Tario then introduced Santaro who explained what a tech rally is and said, “We are here to cheer on technology!” Santaro explained that under the new technology plan, each child would receive a wireless computer, which would be wheeled into the classroom each day. Under the new plan, a student will have the opportunity to research a topic of interest that the teacher has presented. “It’s incredible,” said third grade teacher Lynn Clark. “I think the children will have a great advantage with the new wireless lap top project.”

Santaro said “Our plan is to make you computer professionals, similar to a baseball professional.” The children were also given baseball hats to wear to the rally. The principal asked the students if they wanted to see the laptop computers. The students said, “Yes!” and the cart was wheeled out decorated with red and white Boston Red Sox and Yankee balloons. Santaro played “Get Ready For This” while encouraging the children to cheer and wave their arms. The principal asked the students if they wanted to see how the other equipment on the cart worked. After they answered, “Yes,” Santaro located the school’s web page and, using an overhead projector, showed scenes of teachers, staff, students and Father Joe Phillips working in the school. The presentation ended with the statement that St. Ann’s is a place to grow in wisdom, knowledge and grace. Tario told the children that the computer cart would be coming to their classrooms soon. She then led the children in a prayer asking for guidance as they continue to learn about technology.

Student Jeffrey Scott is looking forward to using his new lap top computer. “I think it will be fun and we’ll be able to learn more. We only have one computer in our classroom now,” said Scott. Santaro explained that computers bring things from across the world within the children’s reach. “Everything is just a keystroke away,” said Santaro. She thinks it is very important for elementary school children to learn computer skills. “Our goal is to help our students at an early age to develop computer and life skills that will carry them through middle school, junior/senior high school and college.

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