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Photo by Theresa Hynes
Photo by Theresa Hynes

Students at St. Agnes Academic High School in College Point will soon have the ability to go beyond the traditional classroom and immerse themselves in 21st-century learning.

Starting next year, each St. Agnes student will have her own Google Chromebook to use both in school and at home; the technology will become hers upon graduation.

Keri-Ann Wade-Donohue, assistant principal of strategic planning and social studies department chair at the all-girls private school, explained that Chromebooks look and feel like a laptop, but run a Chrome OS operating system, allowing for multiple layers of security, cloud storage and built-in access to Google programs.

The school ran a pilot with the program this year. Students can currently access shared Google Chromebooks in the school’s computer lab and in certain classrooms. Next year, the technology will be accessible to all.

Google Classroom is an online learning platform that simplifies creating, grading and collaboration for students and educators, Wade-Donohue explained. Students will use Chromebooks to access the program and work collaboratively, take notes, access assignments, communicate with teachers and peers, store their files, take school-wide surveys and more.

“When they’re writing essays in the classroom, I can have all 20 essays that are being done all at once open on my screen,” Wade-Donohue said. “I can see how they’re progressing; if I think that there’s something that they’re missing, I can type in their document and let them know.”

“I find the Chromebooks really efficient to use,” said Brianna Cruz, a sophomore student. “Mostly because all your work gets saved there. So if you get home and maybe your computer is having problems, you can use the Chromebook to pick up from where you left off and it wouldn’t have deleted any of your work.”

Access to Google Chromebooks also helps the school further its mission to grow its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. The school has expanded its selection of STEM courses, activities and clubs and recently brought in Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology.

“In 2017, we live in a world where everything is at the snap of a finger,” sophomore student Macayle Fuchs said. “And the Google Chromebooks give us that chance.”

“We’ve always been a school that prides itself on cultural diversity and empowering women,” Wade-Donohue said. “We’re trying to build a STEM program and open up career fields to women in the 21st century. So what better way to do that than to improve access to technology.”

The Google Chromebooks upgrade was achieved by adding a small tech fee, which covers Chromebook insurance, GPS tracking, parental safeguards and other maintenance, to student tuition, and with funding from the Department of Education.

St. Agnes Academic High School is located at 13-20 124th St. To learn more about the school, visit their website.

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