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Back to school
Changes take place before new school year

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

A new school year brings, not only new students and teachers, but also new equipment and new technology.

Many of the Catholic schools in the diocese have experienced changes recently that the students will experience firsthand in the coming weeks when school begins.

Emmetsburg Catholic

A lot of changes have taken place at Emmetsburg Catholic – security system, playground, Smart Boards and more.

“What is best for the student is the focus of these updates,” said Jean Hyslop, principal at Emmetsburg Catholic.

A new security system is being installed with cameras, sensors to release the doors, intercom to access the office from outside, a release button in the office, a monitor for the cameras, a scanner system for the staff to access the building and a keypad as well.

The new playground focuses on movement and will be gold and green, the school colors.

The lower elementary teachers wrote a grant to Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation (PACGDC) for the Smart Boards, which have been purchased for kindergarten and third grade.

St. Edmond, Fort Dodge

St. Edmond School in Fort Dodge completely renovated the heating system in the high school and added air conditioning along with some other updates.

A capital campaign was begun in 2012 to address this issue as well as to build an endowment for the one-to-one computer program. The campaign was a success and installation of new delivery/return piping and classroom blowers began being installed a year ago.

“To date all is on schedule and the 2014-15 school year will kick off with the new system up and running,” said Tom Miklo, director of development, who added school starts on Aug. 20.

Both of the main entrances for the elementary and high school/middle schools will have security cameras. Once the school day begins, both entrances will be locked and monitored by staff.

Along with the new entrance cameras, the original high school/middle school main office has been remodeled. The office entrance was changed to overlook the main lobby.

St. Patrick School, Sheldon

Sheldon St. Patrick’s is now equipped with 12 new tablets for a mobile lab for the new school year. The mobile lab will allow for the computers to travel from classroom to classroom.

“The tablets make it possible for a whole class to be on a device and work collaboratively with technology to learn,” said Leah Murphy, principal at St. Patrick’s.

A new boiler system has been installed and the school is starting a JMC system.

“JMC is a student information system which will better track attendance, lunch, grades, etc. It also gives parents the access to this information,” said Murphy. “New phone/intercom system helps us communicate with classrooms and can be used as a safety feature in case of emergency. The video screen will help welcome visitors and will be a centralized place for announcements.”

Kuemper Catholic, Carroll

The Kuemper Catholic School System is in the middle of a capital campaign and a technology upgrade is one of two projects completed this summer. 

Bill Schrad, technology coordinator at Kuemper, explained they started from scratch with the new network, out with the old and in with the new. Everything has been replaced including cabling, wireless access points, network switches and servers.

“We needed a more robust network to handle the kind of traffic we are expecting,” he said.

Gehlen Catholic, Le Mars

Dell partnered with Gehlen Catholic School in Le Mars to solve their technology needs this summer. Dell donated laptops, tablets, All-In-Ones, printers and switches. These products included the latest Operating system of Windows 8.1. Dell also provided hands on training of the new infrastructure and hosted a Microsoft led training for the teachers and staff.

Also, phase II of the back gym remodeling project at Gehlen was completed this summer. Last year, the back gym was repainted, new mats and doors were installed.  This summer, a wood floor was installed to replace the original rubber floor, which was 30+ years old.  

The purpose of the environment was to motivate students and increase their engagement in physical activity, both inside and outside of the school day, noted Lisa Niebuhr, development director.

Other changes

Staff, parents and students at St. Mary’s School in Storm Lake will be a bit safer when school opens for the year on Aug. 20. Due to a new security system, visitors can only gain access to the building through utilizing a videophone at the east visitors’ entrance, which is connected to the administrative offices.

“Obviously our primary goal is to provide a more secure learning environment for our students, faculty and staff,” said Steven Lueck, St. Mary’s secondary principal. “We hope that our parents and visitors understand that there will be a slight inconvenience entering the building as a trade-off to protect their children.”

At Spalding Catholic in Alton and Granville, each grade prek - 8 now has a Smart Board in their classroom.

“Research indicated this technology engaged the students in a unique and interactive way, thus helping to increase learning,” said Deacon Dan Goebel, development director at Spalding. “We also knew this technology would be another great selling point for Spalding Catholic. These boards add another element of creative learning, something the teachers and students are excited about.”

At Pocahontas Catholic School new playground equipment has been installed.

Boone Sacred Heart School has installed new heating and added air conditioning this summer.

St. Rose of Lima School in Denison received a classroom set of iPad minis in the middle of the year last year, funded by a Rotary grant from Denison Rotary. Patty Lansink, principal at St. Rose, mentioned they received a mobile cart to store and charge the computers donated by a third party,” said. All of the classrooms are now equipped with Smart Boards.”

St. Catherine-St. Mary’s School in Remsen now has a 30-unit Windows Tablet lab for the middle school. The school is also replacing the wireless infrastructure at all three schools, including adding Wi-Fi to the church as well, noted Pete Haefs, pk-12 principal.

Seton Grade School in Algona purchased 10 Ipads and 20 Dell Chromebooks for the new school year. 

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