St. Paul students enjoy tech upgrade

SALEM – St. Paul School students both now and in the future are benefitting from a technology upgrade, thanks to the generosity of the Salem Community Foundation and two St. Paul School organizations.

“There’s a new energy in here,” technology coordinator and computer teacher J.C. Williams said.

Williams, who also teaches art, was talking about the technology room where two rows of new computers greet students every day, with capabilities they never had available before.

“Now we have more than enough technology for our students. This allows our kids to learn first-hand with the best technology available,” Principal David Pancurak said.

Pancurak and Williams invited their benefactors to come and see the end result this week and Pancurak said he’s more than willing to give tours to anyone who wants. Catholic Schools Week kicks off this weekend, so the building will be open for the spaghetti dinner and the Scholastic Book Fair in the school library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Salem Community Foundation provided a grant of $10,000 which was matched with $5,000 each from the St. Paul School Foundation and the St. Paul Home & School Association. SCF Grants Coordinator Melissa Costa made note of how three different entities worked together to make a difference for the students at St. Paul School.

The funding paid for 20 new computers, keyboards and mouse sets, a new Intel Server system, six laptop computers, five new projectors for SmartBoards (today’s version of a chalkboard) and accompanying hardware for wireless Internet. Each classroom now has one computer for students and one computer for teachers, along with Apple TV digital media receivers, projectors and SmartBoards.

Pancurak said Williams didn’t have enough computers in the technology room to teach the biggest class and now everybody has access to a computer and they’re all on the same level.

Frank Zamarelli, president of the St. Paul School Foundation, said the computers have a lot of security built in. His company, Salem Computer Center, installed the equipment and the wireless system.

The old computers from the technology room are in the library, so they’re still getting some use. With the new technology, they’re also able to make better use of the iPads the school already had. The school has 42 iPads, with each student in the first and second grade having an iPad due to an anonymous donation.

The school purchased the new work stations in the technology room and repurposed the old tables in the classrooms.

“You’re seeing technology in an elementary level that you would have at a high school level,” Williams said.

Besides word processing, the computers include photo programs, an animation program, 3-D rendering software and other capabilities built for the 21st century. He said he’ll be having the students work on creating websites with these computers.

Visitors to the computer room besides Zamarelli included Costa and SCF President John Tonti and St. Paul Home & School Association President Sue Sowa, who also works at the school as a reading teacher and gifted teacher. She also works with Spanish-speaking students.

Zamarelli gave a lot of credit to Lauren Arnold, a St. Paul School graduate who the St. Paul School Foundation hired to prepare all the materials for the grant application.

Pancurak noted that as part of Catholic Schools Week, Mayor John Berlin will issue a proclamation Monday. He also said the date of the spelling bee has changed to 1 p.m. Feb. 4.