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Celebrate! Tonight!
By Jennifer Wu, Roncalli Central High, Port Saunders, NL


"Exceptional" seemed to be the word of the night when Roncalli Central High School held their very first Innovation night.

At the end of the school year, June 2003 students and teachers of Roncalli invited the public to help them celebrate new ways of learning. Over 100 people attended, from government officials, prominent business people, parents, teachers and students, in order to explore aspects of learning such as with Lego Dacta, music, cadets, technology involved with science, shop, and English, and much more.

The evening started off with a video presentation, emceed by students Leila Beaudoin and Frankie Gaslard. The video was created by a group of students, promoting music programs in schools, as well as the use of technology in schools to produce such videos. This video had recently won a national video award, which leaves yet another thing for the school and area to celebrate. Following this video was a live performance by the Roncalli Music Band.

After the opening formalities, the crowds were eager to be led off by their student hosts in order to learn more about other forms of innovative technology used in the school. The crowd was split into eleven groups, each sent to view different presentations.

Presentations, such as the Lego Dacta, had students Gary O'Keefe, April Spence, and Tommy Lavers showcase their creations. The student presenters explained how the Lego creations could be controlled by motors, hydraulic air pumps, and even computer programming.

Theater Arts students Kristel Brown, Jessica Goodland, Genine Gaslard, and Bernard Chapella gave a presentation which demonstrated "tricks of the trade" in stage production-- ranging from lighting techniques and equipment, to crafty stage makeup how-to's. One student, Jessica Goodland, sported a realistic scar on one cheek; and 17-year old Bernard Chapella was done up in such a way that he could easily be mistaken as an old man from far a distance.

Student presenters Robin Bursey and Kyle Gould demonstrated to the public the technology available in the school which can be used to create music CD's. In the previous year, students recorded a song entitled "Together We Are One" in hopes to submit it for a High School National CD Project. Kyle says during the presentation, "we hope that in future years, all 7-12 students will be able to do things in music beside just the core program."

Other student presenters like Katrina Alyward and Marlana Critchley share in their presentation about audio technology that "we enjoyed making audio pieces... we are looking forward to doing bigger pieces." They also explained that although it took a lot of hard work to complete each project, they had a lot of fun doing them too. Katrina and Marlana made their presentation interactive by asking for volunteers to help them create an impromptu audio piece. The volunteers were asked to speak into a microphone, which was connected to a computer. The program SAWPLUS 32 was used in order to create a recording. The girls demonstrated all this and then played back their recording for the group to hear.

"The technology we use in the school affects us greatly," says student host Amanda Beaudoin. For example, some things, like the graphing calculators "make situations easier for us in math," says student Keith Cornick during his presentation of the graphing calculators. Likewise, parent Jeannette O'Keefe adds that use of the graphing calculators is less time consuming, and provides students with the assurance that they are on the right track when solving a problem.

Amanda concludes that "the technology available at the school makes things a lot more fun for students when learning to do things." Roncalli is a school which contributes a lot to the community, and it offers a lot of things which "capture people's attention."

Jeannette O'Keefe exclaims, "this was my first hands-on opportunity to see what our schools and communities have to offer. It's hard to understand the technology when you're not directly involved in it, and having this night was just wonderful- it was one of the best nights I've spent in a long time."

Wallace Young, M.H.A. for District of St. Barbe says that he was not surprised at what Roncalli has to offer, but he was still undoubtedly in awe. "What I saw at the IT Celebration runs with what I know about this school, but I was still extremely impressed. Roncalli has an exceptional school program... students are fortunate to have such a school program... and parents should be glad of the quality of education their children are getting here."

Perhaps one of the more impressive aspects of the entire night was the fact that it was run, for the most part, not by the teachers, but by the students themselves. Wallace Young comments, "The confidence of the students was noticeable... their involvement level is commendable... they had the desire to create something positive in this environment, there was a sense of ownership for what they have created. The students were very proud of what they presented.


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