Pacelli turns to technology for education

Published 7:21 am Friday, July 23, 2010

School is getting a little more high-tech for Pacelli High School students.

Starting this year, every Pacelli student in grades 9 through 12 will receive a laptop as part of a push by the school to update the technology infrastructure and improve students’ opportunities to learn.

Students will receive their laptops at a mandatory meeting a week before the start of school. Students will have ownership of the laptops throughout the school year.

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Each student will be charged an additional $125 technology fee, which will be used to fund the school’s laptop program.

Pacelli principal Mary Holtorf sees the laptops as a means to keep students excited about learning.

“I think the computers help engage students of all ages. We want to take that curiosity they had in kindergarten and make them have it in high school,” Holtorf said.

In addition to the laptops for the older students, the school will create one stationary and two mobile computer labs. The stationary computer lab will be placed in the elementary building, along with one of the mobile labs, while the other mobile lab will be housed in the middle school. The school is in the process of installing a free Wi-Fi Internet connection and a computer system infrastructure, both which will be running by the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 7. The school’s Wi-Fi will only be available on campus.

Technology is not the only purpose of the school’s update. The Rev. Dale Tupper, Pacelli’s president, warned that it would be easy to mistake the update as simply a move to put computers in students’ hands.

“What this is really about is not technology. It’s about learning, it’s about how teachers teach,” said Tupper. “It puts a tool in the hand of teachers they didn’t have and it allows a whole array of creative teaching styles.”

The computer program is funded through the Securing Our Future campaign, an initiative aimed at generating $3.5 million for Austin Catholic Schools over the next three years. To date, the initiative has raised $1.6 million in pledges.

The MacBook computers will be purchased through Apple.