St. Joseph School gets tech upgrade

The technology upgrades recently completed at St. Joseph Catholic School were originally intended to run one internet connection to each classroom and install wireless access throughout the building.

It’s safe to say the project turned into much more than that.

The result is a technological infrastructure that is cutting edge now and also prepares the school, from a technical standpoint, for the future.

The improvements are the results of a $156,000 donation from the Dart Foundation, headed by St. Joseph alumni Ariane Loranger, and the tech-savvy work of Al Loranger III, who donated all the equipment and labor to make the facility wireless.

Principal Dr. Howard Ferguson explained on Wednesday that, with the funding, the school has improved fiber optic connectivity, new smartboards in every classroom, as well as 30 iPads for student use.

It’s quite a jump for the school, which just had one smartboard before.

Ferguson said the updates will allow “technology to support instruction” at the school in a myriad of ways.

Technology Coordinator Judy Danielson said she “wanted a Band-Aid but got a lot more than that” through the process. She said the updates will “guide our plans for the future.”

Danielson was excited about the wealth of internet-based resources that can now be brought into the classroom. She said her original goal was to bring technology into the classroom.

“Now we have far exceeded that,” she said.

She explained that students are media-based in society and that it is important to “have that extra hook to get them excited.”

While Ferguson noted that technology “is a tool, not an end” he did say the teachers have embraced the new technological options.

The project was originally much smaller in scope.

Loranger explained that he was in the school for an unrelated matter and “saw there was literally no infrastructure. That really stuck with me.”

So when his company, AVAS, completed a new wireless infrastructure project for a commercial entity, and the company gave him the old equipment, Loranger approached Ferguson about upgrading the school with that equipment with the goal of one ethernet port in each classroom as well as wireless building-wide.

But when he mentioned the project to his sister, Ariane Loranger, “She said ‘Let’s do it right and get a grant done.'”

The Dart Foundation, the charity for Dart Container which, according to Al Loranger has 80 percent of the world styrofoam market, routinely purchases equipment for schools that need it. The $156,000 grant made possible the purchase of iPads and smartboards, which far exceeded the scope of the original project.

“They desperately needed the technology they now have,” he said. “Now the school is truly up to speed technology-wise…. This is what all the other schools have.”

“(The) true goal is the impact it will have… (the) improvement of education they will have,” Loranger said of the project.