Monday, January 29, 2001

Parishioners brought school into Information Age

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Three years ago, Our Lady of the Rosary School had no Internet or e-mail. Today, computer-savvy parishioners have turned the school into a wired machine.

        About 30 standalone Apple computers were scattered around the school in 1998 when a technology committee was formed.

        Now, the K-8 Greenhills school has a lab with 30 computers connected to the school and parish network, high-speed Internet access, a full-time computer teacher, a computer in every classroom, a mini-lab with four computers for school and parish use, and an automated library.

        “We've learned so much in two years,” said Beth Williams, an eighth-grader. “... We use it (the computer) for every report. We're totally influenced by computers. ... The kids in first grade are going to be totally in the computer generation before they go to high school.”

        To celebrate Catholic Schools Week, the school hosts an open house from 7:30-9 p.m. Wednesdayto showcase the technology. It's unusual for a small Catholic school — enrollment is 210 — to be so wired, said Nick Franzese, the school's technology coordinator.

        “We have extremely talented and gifted people in our parish, so we can probably afford to do a lot more than other schools our size,” Mr. Franzese said. “We do everything our selves, right down to the maintenance of the computers.”

        Donations and fund-raisers generated money for the project, which cost $80,000 to $90,000.

        More than 50 volunteer parishioners did the work, from researching the school's computer needs to installation.

        Directing the lab project were Chris Sauer, Craig Eaton and Matt Oelrich, all University of Cincinnati students and graduates of Our Lady of the Rosary. Scouts from the parish pulled the wires through the building during June and July 1999.

        The technology “provides a means which the kids can be better prepared, not only for their work here at school, but their future work,” said Principal Judy Hoferkamp. “It gives them the tools by which they can better use the knowledge that they gain in their education.”

        Mike Williams, a technology committee member and father of two students, said the upgrade was essential.

        “Technology is part of our lives. It's a part of our jobs. In order for our children to get ahead, they need to have a handle on the technology and the research that's available through the Internet and different kinds of software,” Mr. Williams said.

        Parishioners can sign up for computer classes in the main lab, or they can use the mini-lab from 5-9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

        The school has taken the upgrade another step with a computerized library.

        Over Christmas break, volunteers automated about 10,000 library volumes. Now, students are finding books in the library that they didn't know were there.


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