Schools from Newfoundland were linked with students in Waterford County, Ireland, via the Internet on May 20 during the launch of the STELLAR Schools program. In 1995, STELLAR Schools was started in Newfoundland by Cable Atlantic and STEM~Net. The purpose of the program is to provide Internet connections to students for use in the classroom.
The schools involved must ensure that they complete at least three Internet projects a year through this program. Each student in the school is provided with their own account, which includes Internet and e-mail that they can access at anytime throughout the school day. Booth Memorial High School in St. John's hosted a ceremony to celebrate the launch of STELLAR Schools in Ireland. Ireland has strong connections with Newfoundland. From food, to dialect, to traditions, the Irish are very similar to Newfoundlanders.
Several special guests took part in the launch. Minister Martin Cullen from the Republic of Ireland spoke to the audience at Booth over a phone link from Newtown Secondary School in Waterford, Ireland. He thanked STEM~Net and Cable Atlantic for their efforts to set up an Internet connection in the schools.
The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Brian Tobin, spoke to the crowd gathered at Booth and his speech was also broadcast to the people in Waterford. He said he hoped the new Internet link would make it easier to maintain close ties between Newfoundland and Ireland. Mayor Andy Wells of St. John's brought greetings, as did Dr. Terry Piper, chair of the STEM~Net Board of Directors, and Mr. Danny Williams, chair of Cable Atlantic. Also on hand were Mr. Derrick Moore, Principal of Booth, Ms. Thomasina Cleal of the Avalon East School Board and Major Brian Peddle, school chaplain at Booth.
As part of the ceremony, "Theatre Booth" presented a five-minute skit about the innovations of Guglielmo Marconi and Alexander Graham Bell. The group used marionettes to tell the story of the first wireless transmission and the invention of the telephone. The ceremony also featured several performances from Booth Memorial's Jazz Band, and the St. Pat's Dancers, an Irish dance group in Newfoundland.
Meanwhile, students from five other schools in Newfoundland made presentations, read poems and sang songs to the audience at Booth through an Internet connection.
Another part of the day's celebrations was a video presentation about Future Pathways, a work experience project for all Grade 11 students at Booth Memorial. The course is an honours program that includes two in-class credits, as well as one credit for a work placement term. This part of the ceremony included recognition of Future Pathways students and Booth Memorial's business and community partners.
Overall, the ceremony was about multimedia and the future of students. Not only did it show how advanced a school Booth Memorial High School is, but also how important computers are in today's classrooms.
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