The children of Saint Cornelius Catholic School have started the year with 25 new Apple computers in their multimedia center thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Atol Family Trust.
Georgianna Atol, a teacher at Beverly Hills High School, was killed by a drunk driver in 1976. Her parents Elias and Genevieve Atol established the trust in her honor to help advance Catholic education, which had always been important to Georgianna Atol and her family. Sister Barbara Bray, the Oakland Diocese superintendent, recommended Saint Cornelius as a possible recipient.
“When you’re an urban Catholic school during difficult economic times most resources go toward tuition assistance, salaries and benefits,” Saint Cornelius Principal Shervin Moradi said. “We were looking for a way to upgrade the lab.”
Representatives from the Atol Family Trust visited Saint Cornelius in May. “We were very convinced from our first meeting that Saint Cornelius would be an excellent school to receive this grant,” said a representative from the trust who wished to remain anonymous. “We were so impressed with the dedication and devotion of the entire faculty.”
Representatives of the grant were told the money would go towards technology.
“We could see there was certainly a need,” the representative said.
Before the grant most of the school’s computers were donated by other schools that had upgraded their own equipment. Working on different models with a varying programs and hardware specifications proved very frustrating.
“It’s difficult to plan a lesson if you don’t know if the computers will work,” teacher Darlene Charyet said. “Now we have enough computers for an entire class.”
Eighth grade teacher Jason Fritschi had difficulty with the old computers as well.
“Every single time we were in here computers would freeze,” he said. “This is the first year we’ve had all the computers hooked up to a printer.”
The educational programs installed on the new machines allow teachers to assign specific lessons, track student progress and to chart improvement or identify weaknesses. Games and other programs allow students to communicate globally — like the program Mathletics, which lets them play a math game with children around the world using instant messaging.
“I can play lots of games” first grader Dalasia Hawkins, 6, said as she scrolled her mouse over the word “very.”
“This one is kind of new,” she said. She clicked on the word and the computer announced, “very.”
“They think they’re playing a game,” first-grade teacher Marni Higgins said. “But they’re learning something new or making a connection to something they already learned.”