NAUGATUCK — The borough’s only Catholic school has received an infusion of technology.
St. Francis-St. Hedwig School unveiled and dedicated its new technology and media center on Sunday.
“This gives us the ability to access internet and educational materials online. It gives teachers a lot more flexibility in the way they teach,” Principal John Salatto said. “We’re educating the kids for the future.”
The center was made possible due to a $50,000 donation from the St. Francis School Foundation.
In addition to the approximately 30 computers, the donation allowed the school to install an interactive Smart Board Systems, which includes a magnetic white board, projector, and wireless and videoconferencing technology in each classroom, according to a press release issued by the foundation.
Foundation treasurer Eileen Cornacchia explained that the bulk of the donation came from the bequests of Father Joseph Donahue and St. Francis parishioner Lidia deHippolytis.
While the bulk of the money came from those donors, there were other donations of both time and skill that went into making this center a reality.
Tim Mulligan of Mulligan Electric an electrician by trade, parishioner and parent of children at the school, donated extensive electrical services to provide a school wide electrical infrastructure upgrade to power the new equipment.
“Tim Mulligan donated a tremendous amount of services as far as the electronic component go,” Salatto said.
Salatto was also very thankful for the services of Ben Catanzaro of Idezyne in Beacon Falls who donated several months of time in programming and setting up the complete technological overhaul.
“The need to upgrade was so tremendous that under normal means they could not make it work,” Catanzaro said. “What I brought was the know-how and connections to stretch the dollar with the vendors I work with outside of school.”
Catanzaro explained that he had been working with the school for about five years. He felt that it was important to make sure the school was technology viable for both the future of the students and the future of the school itself.
“Technology is a great tool for them to be competitive,” Catanzaro said. “Every school system has technology in place so why should St. Francis-St. Hedwig be any different.”
Salatto explained that, although the unveiling was on Sunday, this project has been years in the making.
Starting two years ago the school decided that it needed to update all of its technology, Salatto explained.
The school moved forward with its plan and, during the summer break, began to install all of the new technology it had purchased. The center and Smart Boards went live in October, Salatto explained.
Salatto said that both the teachers and the students are excited about the new technology being used in the classroom, but it does take time to get used to.
“In many respects it’s a learning curve that starts at ground zero and works its way up because it is a different way of teaching and learning,” Salatto said. “Each month that goes on the teachers become more adept at teaching electronically.”
St. Francis Foundation President John Geary said the technology center and the whiteboards are only the beginning.
“The goal is to get St. Francis-St. Hedwig School to get to the best technological state for Catholic schools in area,” Geary said.
Local and state dignitaries turned out for the unveiling on Sunday.
“The new technology and media center at St. Francis-St. Hedwig School is one more attribute of superior academics that this school has to offer its students and the community. The center will provide the necessary knowledge and hands on experience so necessary in furthering their careers. My sincere congratulations to the parish, school, parents, volunteers, and foundation for making this possible,” state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas said in the press release.