CHESTERTON — St. Patrick School has gone through a technology transition over the past two years.

Principal Rick Rupcich is pleased with the new advances at the school, which has an enrollment of nearly 300 students.

"We redid our infrastructure and now have interactive technology and smart boards," Rupcich said.

The change over of the technology started in fall 2014 when the principal put a plan together with parent donations to get Smart Boards and iPads Minis for the students. Chalkboards are now a thing of the past at the school, replaced by Whiteboards and Smart Boards which interact with the iPads.

"We raised $53,000 from donations and this school year the teachers are using the Smart Boards in first through eighth grades," Rupcich said. "It's great because the teachers can find a program and interact with the students."

With the Whiteboards (Smart Boards) the students are able to sit with their iPads Minis and answer questions and review for tests.

Bill Sexton, computer science teacher at the school, is pleased with all the technology for the school.

The team who put this all together for the school was led J.D. Hodges, owner of Dunes Information Systems, of Chesterton.

"We basically designed a new network system," Hodges said. "There were weaknesses with the old system system. It feels good me and my team to help the school and to integrate the church, as well."

One of the upgrades the school is now using is the software Ascend, a student management system which incorporates the grading system, attendance and daily reports.

"This gives us so much information now," Repcich said. "There won't be paper report cards given out anymore and parents can watch the child's progress every day." 

Hodges said that his business will be managing the system on a weekly basis and will be doing security updates for the school.

Rupcich said that the Rev. James Meade, pastor at the church, sanctioned all these changes and was a big supporter of all the computer upgrades.

Fourth-grade teacher Carol Kalita loves all the new programs and said the students with their iPads are able to get more help with the Whiteboards.

"We use programs to review for tests and we can also introduce subjects this way," said Kalita. "This is very helpful to teachers and the students like it."

Fourth-grader Brendan Recktenwall, 9, was working on his iPad using the Kahoot program to review for a social studies quiz. With this game the children not only are reviewing for a quiz but it makes it fun for them because they have to answer questions and get points on the board for how accurate and fast they are.

"It helps you study for the test," Recktenwall said.

Sedona Vendramin said she likes the program.

"I'm a gamer and I like these kinds of games and programs," she said.


Annette is Porter County Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for 20 years. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.