SKD makes big investment in technology – Bucks Courier

St. Katharine Drexel Regional School makes big investment in technology

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October 11, 2016

Learning at St. Katharine Drexel Regional School has shifted into high tech.

The Catholic elementary-middle school in Northampton has invested $81,860 in a new media center and other equipment designed to better prepare its students for the rapidly advancing digital world they will face in later grades and beyond.

Included is a one-to-one digital learning initiative that saw the school issue Google Chromebooks to all 130 students in grades four through eight and iPads to all 100 students in grades one through three.

“It makes class work a lot more fun and a lot faster,” said eighth-grader Grace Franklin of her Chromebook. “We’re able to research papers while writing them, and in the same place rather than going from book to book. It definitely makes coming to school a lot more fun. It’s not so much of a task as it used to be.”

Students can do homework and class assignments on the portable devices and also take some tests, St. Katharine officials said.

“They are great, you can use them for anything,” said another eighth-grader, Luca Baratta. “The world is becoming more and more technology-based, so this will definitely help us.”

Classmate Jillian Clark agreed the devices “will better prepare us for college and all through life.”

That’s the main goal, said administrators at St. Katharine, which was formed when the old St. Bede the Venerable and Assumption BVM (Lower Southampton) schools combined at the site of St. Bede in Northampton. The church at the site still is called St. Bede.

“They come to us with so much experience already in the use of technology, so we want to expand on that and get them ready for the competitive world waiting for them when they leave here,” said St. Katharine Interim Principal Barbara Zanaras.

“We had to make this turn to technology,” she added. “These students will all be going to different high schools when they leave here, and they have to be able to compete with students coming from everywhere.”

A big part of the technology emphasis is the new media center. The old library at St. Katharine was renovated into a center that includes 24 desktop computers for use by both staff and students, books, periodicals and a television studio that will soon enable students to broadcast school, local, state and national news throughout the building.

The $65,000 renovation was made possible by donations from St. Bede parishioners, Assumption BVM parishioners, parents, local businesses, alumni and many others, said St. Katharine Director of Advancement Lisa James.

The media center combined with all the other digital advances has many pluses, said the school’s new media specialist, Timothy McWilliams, who teaches digital literacy and media studies at the school.

“I can put an assignment onto the Chromebooks and iPads and each student can then work on it at their own pace,” he said. “I can concentrate on each student’s specific needs.”

Part of the technology push also includes teaching students the responsible use of social media platforms, said James.

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