Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jan
  • 19

Faith, Academics, Service

Posted By January 19, 2012 | 1:12 pm | Featured Article #1
Outreach2WEB

St. Bernadette School, Northborough

The theme for this year’s Catholic Schools Week, being celebrated Jan. 29-Feb. 5, is: “Catholic Schools – Faith. Academics. Service.” In anticipation of that nationwide celebration, in which local Catholic schools participate, St. Bernadette School in Northborough shares with us some of the ways its students learn and live their faith.

Faith

As our faith is such an integral part of our mission, the Church is a large part of our students’ everyday lives. Each grade attends morning Mass once a week as a class, and a school-wide liturgy takes place each month.
In addition to religion classes, our students also take part in many special faith-based projects each year. All Saints Day is a great example of this. Each year, our kindergarten students create posters about a particular Saint and have an All Saints Day parade around the campus. This year, our first-graders were assigned a saint to research and each student created a sketch and watercolor to depict their saint.

Academics

The administration at St. Bernadette School has made new technology a high priority over the last few years and in the long-range academic plans for the school. In addition to our Media Center which houses 30 PCs, the school is currently leasing a Macintosh Lab that consists of 25 Mac laptop computers on a portable cart that can be transported throughout the school.
Students from kindergarten through grade 8 have all benefitted from this lab, and new technologies have been used in all subject areas, including science, math, social studies, and even art.
This past year, grade 3 students created their own Picassos by accessing a web program called “PicassoHead.” Not only did they learn about the artist and his life, but they were also able to create their own work of art using his style on their laptops.
Our kindergarteners used the MacLab to take a virtual tour of the Museum of Modern Art in New York using a website called “Destination Modern Art.” On this site an animated alien flies through each gallery at MOMA and teaches the children about the artwork in that gallery.
This year, thanks to our annual walkathon, each classroom at St. Bernadette School became equipped with either an interactive SmartBoard or Mimio, which attaches to any white board to make it interactive, as well as a laptop and projector. This new interactive technology has allowed students to explore many areas which had not been accessible to them before. Teachers have participated in professional development training to learn how to use this technology and to discover what is available to them. Many have found that many of their students are “hands-on” learners and that the opportunity to virtually interact with materials or distant geographic locations, for example, have proven more effective than text-book-only learning.
Thanks to a grant  from the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce, awarded to science teacher Michelle Davis, St. Bernadette School was able to purchase a “Virtual Science Lab” in which many science classes are able to  conduct virtual lab experiments, using virtual materials that might otherwise be very costly to purchase. These virtual technologies have provided a richer learning experience for our students as well as a much more cost-effective alternative to travel and expensive materials.
The newest edition to our technology pool is the acquisition of a MimioVote system.  With the MimioVote, each student is given a handset where they can each individually enter their answers to questions, such as during a class poll, or a quiz – and the teacher can instantly see the results of the students’ answers.
The students at St. Bernadette School have become very passionate about using new technologies in their everyday learning and have taken fundraising into their own hands. In March, they will conduct the Third Annual Walkathon for Technology with a goal of raising $20,000.

Service

Community service and outreach has always been such an important part of the St. Bernadette School community. During the 2010-2011 school year, an after-school Outreach Club was formed. More than thirty students in grades 4-8 participated during the inaugural year, and participation has grown to 60 students this school year. The Outreach Club also includes the entire school community in their efforts.
Some of the service projects that the children have performed include: a collection of Halloween candy for Abby’s House in Worcester; a visit to Coleman House in Northborough in Halloween costumes to pass out treat bags to elderly residents; a school-wide collection of seasonal food to create more than 40 Thanksgiving meals for local needy families and a second visit to Coleman House in December to distribute holiday gifts to residents without family. Santa also visited, as the children and residents sang Christmas carols together.
Other outreach activities over the past year have included: creating a chain of well wishes for a young girl suffering from leukemia; creating and hosting two children’s birthday parties at two family homeless shelters; and a school-wide collection of baby items for Friendly House in Worcester. The Outreach Club delivered the items and stayed and made cookies with some of the homeless children living in the shelter. Students also conducted a collection of toiletry items, creating 100 bags for those in need, and spent a Sunday in a park in Worcester having lunch with the homeless and passing out the bags.