By Connor Adams Sheets
Last year, when Tony Avella was a city councilman, he secured a $250,000 city technology grant for PS 79 in Whitestone.
Last week, Avella, now a state senator-elect, saw the fruits of that effort as the school unveiled its newly upgraded, state-of-the-art computer lab, media center and library.
“I’m just happy I was able to get this money while I was in the City Council in order to help you improve your education,” he told a class of fourth-graders who had just completed computer graphics exercises on the media center’s 28 brand-new Apple computers.
The money for the new technology was made available through the city Resolution A grant program, which gives Council members the ability to grant several tech grants to schools in their district each year.
Whitestone fourth-grader Thomas Papayiannas, 9, was elated to have the opportunity to use the new equipment and software Dec. 14, when Avella and Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) visited the school to tout the improvements. He had just learned from computer teacher Jill Benedict how to create a “tessellation” graphic using the Pixie educational program on one of the media center’s new computers.
“You take a picture you can’t divide symmetrically and flip it and duplicate it,” he said, explaining how to use the program. “The screens are bigger, the way they look is really clear and there’s a lot of new [software.]”
The library received two new computers and gained the ability to do electronic cataloguing through its portion of the grant money, improvements Librarian Nanette Dougherty said will go a long way toward improving its ability to smoothly and efficiently serve pupils.
“We’re going to be putting all the books from our catalogue online, so you’ll be able to search them from home,” Dougherty said. “It’s very exciting because right now it’s sometimes hard to find books and this will make it much easier.”
Benedict said the upgraded media center and lab will be a great boon to the school’s ability to teach youngsters new and exciting computer skills.
“The lab was already here, but the computers are all new and they’re awesome,” she exclaimed.
Community District 25 Superintendent Danielle DiMango-Maringo put the advancements in context for the young students.
“I hope all of you are very excited,” she told the fourth-graders. “This is moving you into the 21st century.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.