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September 13, 2009

Wireless learning, renovations part of new school year

The Office for Catholic Schools provided this roundup of education activity and accomplishments in the archdiocese for the fall. Catholic New World staff contributed.

Maria grad achieves double diplomas

Shamar Ford, a 2009 graduate of Maria High School, received her diploma this year not only from Maria, but also from the Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy June 2, at the Museum of Science and Industry. Ford, of Marquette Park, is attending the International Academy of Arts & Technology.

St. Stanislaus Kostka School unveils peace garden

In celebration of International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, St. Stanislaus Kostka School will unveil the beginning stages of a peace garden.

The ribbon-cutting is part of the school year theme of “Partners for Peace.” The student meditation/ prayer garden will encourage individuals to support world peace and provide a strong learning environment.

During the last year students earned money at home by doing acts of service. The donations went to purchase a peace pole that will mark the beginning stages of the garden.

Exemplary lab at St. Bernadette School

In Evergreen Park, St. Bernadette School’s Essential Learning Solutions Lab (ELS) was presented the Exemplary Lab Award by the Creative Education Institute of Waco, Texas.

The award recognizes schools whose students advance more than two years in less than one year.

St. Bernadette’s ELS program boasts an average of two and a half years of progress that leads to greatly improved performance.

Brother Rice renovates

When the Brother Rice High School Crusaders took the field for their first home football and soccer games, it was on a completely renovated stadium surface. FieldTurf, the most recent and improved artificial turf on the market, was installed at the South Side school.

The artificial turf will allow the Crusaders to play and practice an unlimited number of games on the the baseball field.

The Brother Rice High School Board of Directors made a strategic decision to invest in outside projects now to benefit from the combination of attractive financing and reduced costs for construction labor and materials.

“The Board of Directors agreed that the current economy has presented us with an opportunity we simply couldn’t pass up,” said board chairman Tom Gorman. “We want to make a statement that Brother Rice High School students will have the best facilities now and well into the future”.

This summer’s improvements are a part of a continuing $4.5 million capital campaign with plans to rebuild science labs, renovate classrooms, remodel and expand band and art rooms, modernize washrooms, rebuild and add parking lots and update athletic fields and facilities, including a new wrestling room.

Guerin equips students with laptops

Guerin Prep began the one-to-one computing program in 2007 with the freshmen and sophomore classes, and has added a class each year since. Beginning this fall, all students will be bringing their laptops to class each day.

Thanks to a wireless infrastructure installed in the school building, each student is able to access the Internet anywhere. This technology, combined with the school’s curriculum and a well-versed faculty, allows students to explore diverse cultures and new perspectives; write and edit reports, essays and presentations electronically; plan, prepare and present creative multimedia projects; access online tutoring and communicate with teachers and others worldwide. Electronic textbooks for most core classes are loaded on the laptop.

Though the real test of Guerin Prep’s one-to-one computing program will come when the first group of “laptop” graduates go off to college, a recent midterm evaluation indicates that these laptops are transforming the ways teachers teach and the ways students learn.

St. Norbert students learn at Loyola’s Talented Math Program

Students from Northbrook’s St. Norbert School are participating in Loyola Academy’s Talented Math Program for students in sixth to eighth grade. This program recognizes accelerated math students beginning in sixth grade and adjusts their curriculum accordingly. Once these students reach eighth grade, they attend Loyola Academy for their math coursework, offering them a high school level curriculum.

St. Kieran improves technology, science and math

The local school district awarded St. Kieran in Chicago Heights two white boards, projectors, laptops and the professional development program to enhance and enrich their science and math programs. Students there also received a set of graphing calculators and a projection system to better prepare them for high school and college.

Upgrade for St. Barbara Early Childhood Center

After a year of planning, Bridgeport’s St. Barbara School has unveiled its enhanced Early Childhood Center with new electrical work, wall repairs, and installation of new windows. Heather Garrett, the preschool teacher, recently completed a two-year program at National Louis University Center for Early Childhood Leadership to become an early childhood specialist. Marilyn Lovato, an Art Institute of Chicago alumna, is the preschool fine arts teacher who provides a hands-on developmental learning program for young students.

Double ribbons for two Catholic schools

Both Pope John Paul XXXII School in Evanston and Immaculate Conception School (Talcott Ave.) in Chicago were recently named No Child Left Behind – Blue Ribbon Schools as well as Red Ribbon Certified Schools. The Blue Ribbon Award is the highest recognition offered to schools by the U.S. Department of Education, while the Informed Families/National Family Partnership verifies Red Ribbon Schools for their work at prevention issues. Archdiocese of Chicago schools have received more Blue Ribbon Awards than any school system in the United States.

Seventh-grader learns leadership

Morgan Thomalla, a seventhgrade student at Cardinal Joseph Bernardin School, recently attended the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. She spent a week filled with adventure and learning.

Thomalla visited national museums, experienced the story of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry and participated in historical reenactments. At the end of the week, she had a sleepover at the Maryland Science Center. Participation in the program is open to sixth- and seventh-grade students.

Holy Trinity High School’s centennial celebration

In April 1910, the Brothers of Holy Cross established Holy Trinity High School on the near North Side of Chicago. One hundred years later, Mayor Richard M. Daley declared Sept. 15, 2009, as Holy Trinity High School Day in Chicago.

Many events and activities are planned throughout the school year to celebrate all the achievements of students and alumni. Since opening its doors in 1910, more than 8,000 students have earned diplomas from the school.

Guerin welcomes Nolan Scholars

Among the 620 students who started the school year at Guerin College Preparatory High School this year are 20 sophomores and 18 freshmen who have been named Nolan Scholars.

The sophomores are now in the second year of the program, which was introduced last year to provide academically talented students a more challenging program.

The four-year program gives gifted, motivated students an opportunity to pursue advanced courses of study, participate in enrichment and service experiences and receive special mentoring all aimed at preparing them to succeed at top-tier colleges and universities. The program was named in honor of Sister Nancy Nolan, who was the president of Guerin Prep until February 2007.

The freshmen Nolan Scholars will focus on two themes during this year — Chicago, its architecture and history, and the environment and land.

The themes for the sophomore Nolan Scholars are the law and medicine. Participation in a mock trial, in the National Online Youth Summit and Law Day are currently being investigated as well as a courtroom visit.

Res Banner honored

The Resurrection College Prep High School student news magazine, The Res Banner, received a first-class rating and a mark of distinction in coverage and content from the National Scholastic Press Association Publication Critique. The Res Banner received a first-class rating for its 2008- 2009 publication. “Important school issues are tackled in an informative and balanced way,” commented one judge.

The Res Banner is a student publication distributed to all students, faculty and staff of Resurrection High School with a total print run of 1,200. The news magazine serves as a public forum for expression and communication for the school.

Resurrection grad Sarah Butler was selected for the National Scholastic Press Association’s Journalism Honor Roll. The NSPA Honor Roll recognizes student journalists who have excelled as journalists and scholars, have served on staff for a minimum of one year and have a minimum grade point average of 3.75. Butler served as the editor-in-chief of The Res Banner from August 2008-June 2009.

St. Martin de Porres gets SMART boards

St. Martin de Porres High School in Waukegan now has cutting-edge SMART Board technology in their classrooms.

St. Martin de Porres High School provides students with limited opportunities and excellent college preparatory education made affordable by a work/study arrangement.

The SMART Board is an interactive device that allows teachers to project their lessons from a computer directly onto the board. Not only does this give a teacher full on-line access but the SMART Board is a fully interactive touch-screen board. Teachers can project their worksheets and documents and students can “write” on them using virtual pens that come with the boards. The teacher can then save the work on-line and store it for a later date or print it and distribute it to the class.

The teachers at St. Martin de Porres High School say that the use of SMART Boards in the classroom have increased the level of engagement and enthusiasm in the classroom. The boards were paid for with an anonymous grant.