Ellicott City school celebrates interactive learning center

Plans for a new interactive learning center at Our Lady Perpetual Help School in Ellicott City have been in the works for about three years. It has been a dream for much longer than that.

On Sept. 30, the school community gathered for a blessing and celebration of what former OLPH Principal Nancy Malloy called "a realization of that dream," as the ribbon was cut on a new, state-of-the-art media center.

"This is our vision for the space: a space that is versatile and that can change with the times," OLPH Principal Victor Pellechia said. "Our children today are exposed to so many new technologies and innovations that they need to be able to adapt to. It's not enough to put an iPad in a child's hands — that child needs to know how to adapt to different technology and we want this space to provide that opportunity."

The center is a "digital ecosystem," Pellechia said, and will bring instruction at the pre-K-8 Catholic school to "a new level."

The center used to be classroom, then the library, and then a library/computer lab. But space was tight, said OLPH Director of Technology Tina Marcinkus. She could only fit 15-18 students into the room at one time, but now there's room for about 25 or more.

"We have countless options for the space now," she said. "I'm excited to incorporate more technology into not just the technology curriculum, but classroom curriculum as well."

The new center features a lab of laptops and iPad minis as well as new furniture and projection equipment. Adjacent to the center is a new reading room, where students can receive specialized tutoring. Hanging above it all is a new plaque commemorating a lengthy list of donors.

OLPH Director of Development Jodi Phelan said the school community raised more than $175,000 for the new center, including a $65,000 grant from the Knott Foundation. The gratitude for the generosity of the community, Phelan said, is the "virtue that binds us together," and the gifts will continue to give for generations at the school.

"Think of how much of an influence this room will have on the learning of students," Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, representing the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said before he led the blessing. "Life has different stages, and we celebrate today the stage of life where our students are learning what a great and wonderful world God has given to us."

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