Holy Name of Mary School is keeping up with the times, and students can thank a late parishioner for their modern day education.
The school’s first laptop computer lab opened this year, paid for from an endowment from Jean West, a long-time member of Holy Name of Mary church who died about 10 years ago. There are 21 brand new Dell laptops in the lab along with a SmartBoard and projector. It is being used by students in fifth- through eighth-grade primarily for research.
West, in her estate, left money to the school, which was to be used for scholarships as well as other “big projects” that it wouldn’t normally be able to afford. Principal Richard McMahon put together a proposal of various projects that began to take shape over the past few years.
Over the summer, a new computer lab was created on the first floor in a room that formerly housed offices of the enrollment coordinator, a position that has since been eliminated, and some part-time teachers. The old carpet was pulled up and the original wooden floor was uncovered and restored. The room was also painted, new wiring was installed and new computer tables were purchased.
The cost of the lab, which included renovations to the room, the computers and a new server was $52,000.
The old lab on the second floor, which consists of desktop computers, was kept in tact and now is used only for the lower grades. “Not too many Catholic schools have two labs,” McMahon said. “From a marketing point of view, this is a gigantic gift to the school.”
McMahon explained that parents frequently ask if Holy Name of Mary has computers when checking it out as a prospective school for their children. He said that even with the Catholic school’s belief in rituals, it has an obligation to provide children with a technologically proficient education. “You owe it to the children to give them a modern education and prepare them for their future,” he said.
The students can also thank Veronica “Ronnie” Conway for the gift. She was West’s long-time friend. They were neighbors on Beverly Parkway and both parishioners of the church. Conway has suggested West turn over part of her estate to the school. “She wanted to leave her money for something for kids,” Conway said of West. “She was always interested in the school.”
West was married twice but had no children, and worked for years at Western Electric. Conway has seven children and for 29 straight years she had a least one child enrolled at Holy Name, so she understands the importance of providing students with additional opportunities.
Last week, Conway was invited to the school and greeted a sixth-grade class using the computer lab.
Cassandra Powell, the school’s computer teacher, said the new laptops are a valuable addition to Holy Name. She said the students can do more PowerPoint presentations and use modern software such as graphic design programs. The computers are also really fast which helps in their researching abilities.
In addition to the computers, the school also spent some of West’s endowment for other initiatives. It purchased new signs for the outside of the building as well as a new security monitoring system. The final project, McMahon said, will be to upgrade the library’s 41-year-old computer management system.
“We would never be able to do any of these projects,” he said referring to the school’s normal operating budget.
The computer lab is named for West, who devoted decades of her life to her church and her community, and has made just as big of an impact in death.