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Fabulous Fundraising, Robot Races

District 58 fundraisers get creative while St. Mary's students get technical.

Fabulous Fundraising, Robot Races Fabulous Fundraising, Robot Races Fabulous Fundraising, Robot Races Fabulous Fundraising, Robot Races

District 58

Fairmount Fundraiser to Aid Tornado Victims

Parents, staff and students of Fairmount School, 6036 Blodgett Ave., will join forces Saturday, June 4, to raise funds for victims of the recent tornadoes in Alabama.

Parents and staff will wash cars for donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while children host lemonade and bakery stands at the north end of the parking lot.  

“We have spoken directly with the Chief School Financial Officer of the Tuscaloosa County School System in Tuscaloosa, AL, Patrick Connor," said Principal Tony Coglianese. "Over 2,500 children in that county alone were affected by the tornado and many are now living in shelters. He was overwhelmed by our willingness to lend a helping hand.” 

The rain date is Sunday, June 5 from noon to 4 p.m.

Kingsley Staff Serve Fries for Funds on McTeacher's Night

On June 1 Kingsley's principal, teachers and counselors manned the counters at the McDonald’s restaurant at 225 E. Ogden Ave. during a McTeacher’s Night fundraiser.

The faculty members “worked” at McDonald’s by greeting customers, taking meal orders, pouring soft drinks and serving up fries. In exchange, McDonald’s will donate a portion of the store’s sales back to Kingsley.

St. Mary of Gostyn

The following two stories were submitted by St. Mary of Gostyn seventh-graders Jack Culligan and Jack LaLonde

St. Mary’s Eighth Grade Students Get Personal Laptops 
By Jack Culligan

 For the 2011-2012 school year, eighth grade students at St. Mary of Gostyn School in Downers Grove will get to take around laptops all day for school work. After the school day ends, the students will get to take the computers home. WIFI will be found in all middle school classrooms. Textbooks for science, social studies, and Spanish can be found online, along with notes, which will be typed on a program called “Microsoft One Note.” Also, a group of students can collaborate on a project or notes. The laptops will be charged at home during the night and at school if necessary. The students and teachers are becoming very excited.

Ryan Cantlin, a seventh grade student, says, “The computers will greatly increase the way we learn in our school.”  Thirty Lenovo Thinkpad laptops will be added to the 69 computers that the school already uses in classrooms.

 St. Mary of Gostyn School will be the third elementary school in the Diocese of Joliet to initiate the 1:1 laptop endeavor. Maternity BVM in Bourbonnais, Illinois, was observed to get ideas on how the program could work. Although there are many similarities, such as students getting to take the laptops home, being able to access online textbooks, and typing notes, there are also some differences. In Bourbonnais, the laptops are leased at $45 per month for three years. At St. Mary’s, school computers will be used, and the cost will be included in tuition.

 Middle school teachers visited the school in Bourbonnais to experience their very successful program.  They brought back ideas for our school to enhance the plans already in place. Jean Zanotti, the school’s English teacher, observed the program in Bourbonnais. She said, “I was interested in seeing how the students worked with laptops all day and how the teachers, especially in English class, taught with this program.”

 This program comes with advantages and challenges. An advantage is that this program will improve the student’s ability to access information from the Internet and take organized notes. The laptops will encourage the student’s engagement in class and will decrease the amount of books carried home and to class each day. A challenge for the students will be the increase of responsibility because they will have to take care of them all day during school and at home.

 The 1:1 laptop initiative was a vision brought to the administration a year ago by Mary Buchler, the director of technology at St. Mary’s.  Planning for the infrastructure, hardware and software, and teacher in-service has been in place this past school year.  This summer will be a busy time to prepare for this exciting endeavor. Mary Graczyk will continue to be the wireless facilitator with many new challenges as the 1:1 program becomes a reality.

 Students, teachers, and parents can’t wait for the new 21st century digital skills coming to St. Mary’s next year.

St. Mary’s Robotics Club Teaches Students about Technology
By Jack LaLonde

On five Thursdays throughout the months of March and April, seventh and eighth grade students from St. Mary of Gostyn school were taught about robots and learned how to program their own robotic cars. The students used laptops provided by St. Mary's to better understand how robots complete what they could do.

The program, titled “Developing Software for Developing Minds,” is part of a technology outreach activity sponsored by a Global Energy firm. Meetings were held after school at St. Mary's in Downers Grove. This club was started by Lisa White, a middle school science teacher. Parent Bob Burns helped by providing the robots and by instructing students.

On the first meeting of five, the students were told what was going to happen. To start off, they separated into three groups of four to five students. Each group got their own robotic car and computer. Then, students learned how to program their robots to perform simple tasks, such as moving forwards for three seconds or making a turn. The groups got large packets of instructions telling them how to execute a certain move.

Soon enough, this became a friendly competition between groups. Matthew M. had this to say about Robotics Club, “I really enjoyed learning about how robots work while still having a competition with my friends.”

The students soon learned that they could teach their robots how to follow lines depending on the color of the line. A map was laid out on a table to show what the cars would try to follow. Each group would put their robots on the track individually to follow the given path. For the winning group that finished the path in the fastest time, they would receive large candy bars.

Throughout all of the rest of the meetings, the students were working hard, hoping to win. “The competition was all for fun, but we were still working as hard as we could to win,” said John L, a seventh-grader.

In the end, the group of Tom K., Joseph L., Patrick J., and Jack L. was the team to take home the victory and their candy. Even for those students who did not win, robotics club was a very rewarding experience. “I learned that today’s technology isn’t as smart as it seems. Regular people are needed in order for it to do what it does,” added Griffin O., seventh-grader.

Other members of the club were Nolan C., Devin G., Kathleen H., Jackson K., and Tom F. St. Mary of Gostyn’s Robotics Club was a great way for students to learn and have fun.

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