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St. Mary's receives $15,000 technology grant

WORTHINGTON -- Christmas came a little early this year for St. Mary's School in Worthington, which received a $15,000 technology grant from the Blandin Foundation.

"We feel really blessed to have received that," said Principal Brittany Larson. "It'll be a nice Christmas present. We look forward to using it to better connect our school."

St. Mary's will match the $15,000 with $15,000 from its own budget in order to purchase a total of 15 computers, four SmartBoards and seven new internet access points.

"Because of the (St. Mary's) building -- we have a lot of cement walls -- we don't have internet access for all the students and staff," Larson said, which made adding access points critical for the school.

The next goal for St. Mary's will be building an easy-to-access website for students and parents, perhaps something that would allow adults to make lunch and tuition payments online and check students' grades.

With increased access to the internet, teachers should be able to keep their pages updated more easily, and the school may also be able to decrease its use of paper supplies.

Adding four SmartBoards to classrooms will also increase the district's use of the internet and related technologies.

In addition to the hardware purchases, St. Mary's will also buy an additional 15 copies of Microsoft Office and 15 anti-virus programs, and $1,500 will be spent on training for teachers in the new software.

The $15,000 grant from Blandin was part of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities program, which has set aside $100,000 for area projects promoting the use of broadband technology.

The MIRC program focuses on five elements -- ensuring broadband availability, ensuring workers have the skills for good jobs, ensuring everyone has broadband access, providing new and more efficient government and business services, and attracting investment and talent to the community.

"We were granted $15,000, which is amazing," Larson said.