A STREAM of learning opportunities at St. Peter School

Mon, Nov 20th 2017 09:00 am
Retires St. Peter's teacher Sandy Jordan works with students Melissa and Lily Dipasquale inside the new media center. The center was dedicated to Jordan for her 40 years as the school's librarian and technology director. (Patrick McPartland/Managing Editor)
Retires St. Peter's teacher Sandy Jordan works with students Melissa and Lily Dipasquale inside the new media center. The center was dedicated to Jordan for her 40 years as the school's librarian and technology director. (Patrick McPartland/Managing Editor)

LEWISTON — St. Peter School has been formally accepted into Cohort 4 of the Buffalo Diocese STREAM initiative. STREAM is an integrated approach to education that brings science, technology, religion, engineering, the arts and mathematics to all students in all grades. The goal is to better prepare students for successful careers in the 21st-century workforce in a field where jobs for recent graduates are in high demand.

"STREAM is about doing, making, creating and connecting with community. It's also about infusing religion and technology across all subjects and utilizing creativity in the process," said Ann Yarussi, St. Peter's STREAM coordinator. "This approach cements learning in ways traditional classroom lessons cannot. It also creates a runway for students to be the next generation of believers, innovators, scientists and leaders."

The acceptance into Cohort 4 comes along with the completion of renovations to the school building to accommodate boosted enrollment at St. Peter's. On Oct. 15, Bishop Richard J. Malone celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving and dedication of the recently-completed renovations to St. Peter School and the church. The renovations include the installation of a new elevator and side entrance, the addition of two more classrooms, a new kitchen, a state-of-the-art media center and library, and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. These changes make both St. Peter's church and school handicap accessible.   

This work is a result of the success of the Campaign for St. Peter, which raised more than $2.3 million for the project. Both Bishop Malone and pastor Msgr. David G. LiPuma extended appreciation and gratitude to the parishioners and community for their generous support of the campaign.

"I am just so deeply grateful to all of the parishioners and friends of our parish who have made the addition of our new side entrance and elevator a reality along with the renovations in our school and church," said Msgr. LiPuma. "Truly our school is a school of excellence, and a loving and safe place to form and educate the children entrusted to our care. We are blessed to have such a supportive and generous community."

STREAM training for St. Peter's faculty and staff kicked off at the end of last year's school year. With STREAM, technology is now a part of all classes and curriculums from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. For instance, the school is using reading resources such as Reading A-Z, Starfall and ABC Mouse to enhance literacy development in the primary grades. Likewise, middle school students will complete assignments and experience virtual field trips through the Nearpod online program. STREAM allows each student to receive a unique educational experience tailored to their grade level.

In addition, in the classroom, an inquiry-based approach to daily lessons is encouraged. Students will also be making career connections, as well, with exposure to a variety of working professionals and their fields, which helps to answer the "Why are we learning this?" question.

"As we open new classrooms, furnish existing rooms, christen a new state-of-the-art media center, and continue to grow our school, we are most grateful to all," added Maureen Ingham, St. Peter's principal. "We thank them each day in prayer for believing in us."

Outside the classroom, St. Peter's has also launched fall and spring STREAM Academies to target complex thinking skills and encourage creativity. Some examples of these include a Cooking Club for primary grades and Invention Convention, where third- through fifth-graders learn how to invent their own products. They also include chorus and drama clubs, as well as participation in the Future City Competition, which tasks students with imagining, researching, designing and building cities of the future. Similar STREAM Academies are now included in curriculum at schools throughout the diocese.

In order to prepare St. Peter's teachers for the beginning of this school year and for the rigors of the STREAM Academies, the diocese held an informational session, just before the start of the 2017-18 school year, on the different academies the diocese offers and how to introduce concepts to students. Teachers from all participating STREAM schools were welcome to come to St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in Kenmore to engage in activities and get ideas for projects to bring back to their respective schools.

Each year, the STREAM Academies culminate in the X-STREAM Games, held annually at St. Joe's, allowing students from throughout the diocese to put their skills to the ultimate test by competing with other Western New York children to see who has come up with the best design for their grade level. This year's event will take place Dec. 3 at the high school, and this will be the fourth year of its existence.

Competitions range from robotics and physics to the Invention Convention and Kitchen Chem, all of which bring STREAM skills together for the ultimate science fair. The Invention Convention requires students to design a new device, created for a specific purpose, that does not currently exist, while Kitchen Chem requires them to put their chefs' hats together to meet a food-related challenge, such as designing a healthier way to eat a popular junk food or creating a meal for an athlete who needs the fuel in order to excel at his or her particular sport.

St. Peter's is a Roman Catholic elementary school educating children from pre-K 3 to eighth grade. As the school continues to grow, STREAM will continue to be an important part of the student experience.

To learn more, visit www.stpeterrc.org.  

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