HERMITAGE — For this school year’s second semester, Christine Morimando is holding computer classes in Hickory High School’s library, but that arrangement is only temporary.
By next fall, she — and other technology instructors — will be moving into a new technology room.
Hickory High School administrators intended, after a renovation nearly 20 years ago, for the current technology room to be used as a traditional classroom said, but Frank Gingras, the school’s director of technology. But they didn’t anticipate the demand for computer lab space, which forced Morimando’s classes into the library.
Morimando teaches eighth-grade computers, advanced programming, web and app development and interactive media this school year.
When the new technology room is finished, it won’t benefit only Morimando’s classes. She is already speaking with teachers in other departments about how the technology room could be used collaboratively. Morimando said that could include students working on English or history assignments and then collaborating with students from Morimando’s classes to create posters, websites or videos according to the project.
“I don’t want to hinder the students’ creativity,” Morimando said. “I want to be able assign my students something and give them an example, and have the students come back and ask me, ‘what if we did it this way?'”
To better accommodate more technology-oriented classes, contractors improved wiring improvement and introducing rearrangeable furniture to encourage work on a wide range of projects, said Joe Kulbacki, director of instructional technology.
Crews also created more space by knocking down a wall to combine the technology room with a neighboring classroom that had gone unused for the last few years, Assistant Principal Diane Brest said.
Instead of traditional computers, the technology room will feature laptops that will allow students to move throughout the technology room. Each laptop will also feature touch screens and styluses as well, Gingras said.
Even with the new technology, Morimando said she still requires her eighth-grade students to prepare assignments with pencil and paper or other physical materials before starting on digital assignments.
Morimando’s students are already employing a flexible style of education while the new technology room is being renovated. Though the students used the computer lab last semester, they can work together in a variety of spaces in the library, she said.
“The students so far have been very good about getting together and working on their assignments,” Morimando said.
The expected project cost is expected to be about $100,000. There are funds budgeted for the project, but school officials are pursuing additional grant money to help offset some of the costs.
The technology room will also receive a financial boost courtesy of the Hudson Companies, who made a donation of $25,000 toward the project, said Diane Brest, principal of grades eight through 10 at Hickory High School.
“We talked with John Hudson and Eric Hunter at the Hudson Companies, we showed them the space, and they liked what we’re trying to do,” Brest said.
The renovations are expected to be completed in time for the 2021-22 school year, Brest said.