By Lennon Audrain
Writing articles about Catholic schools and the students who attend them is one of my favorite things to do. Weird, I know, but it’s true. I get to visit schools, meet students and teachers, take notes and then go someplace quiet and write. Simple. Except when my technology goes bad like it did the other day. Ugh. This time, it went so dramatically bad that my “Wonderful Life” turned into Lennon and his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week. And technology was the culprit. Last week my hard drive crashed…hard. My Windows® became doors and my laptop became nothing more than a doorstop. So off to HP it went (because while I had a backup I needed the machine!) And off to Bourgade Catholic I went to write an article about them. Only to discover that all my problems would have probably been solved had I just brought them my machine because Bourgade Catholic’s Hi-Tech Team is turning out techies at an amazing rate.
Hector Montes, a senior, is a member of the Hi-Tech team at Bourgade Catholic. The team is responsible for labeling Chromebooks, entering the Chromebook information into a database, and providing tech assistance to students and teachers. While this is a team of students, the members can opt to provide assistance during a class period. The Hi-Tech team has a total of six members, with three enrolled this semester in the class. One of the most visible responsibilities of the Hi-Tech team is to manage the SkoolLive interactive billboard, adjacent to the library. Run by Hector, the board cycles through a slideshow of campus reminders. Be it special events reminders, club meeting reminders, or even student surveys, Hector develops all the content that is run on the billboard. “At first, there was really no content on it,” says Hector, “but I talked to my moderator and Assistant Principal and got the job.”
But the students and staff at Bourgade Catholic High School are having a total opposite experience than I currently am having with technology–they are embracing it.
Walking into any Bourgade Catholic classroom, you would find an atmosphere totally different from the typical American high school. Students are often found using technology, and each classroom is equipped with a Samsung 65-75 inch television screen, instead of a projector, all equipped with Chromecast so teachers can still project their computers. In Ms. Ashlock’s Biology class, students were working on individual computers, developing PowToons that explain the process of Photosynthesis. “We are doing personalized learning online,” says Assistant Principal for Curriculum & Instruction Ryan Watson, “we want our students to be practicing 21st Century Digital Citizenship.” Bourgade Catholic is a purveyor of Blended Learning.
Some students, however, have seen the dramatic technological shift and are taking it to the next level: personal cell phones. Ray Alonzo, a junior, is building a Bourgade Catholic App. Ray is also a member of the Hi-Tech team and learned how to code HTML and CSS when he was younger. Since Hi-Tech is a semester long class, Bourgade Catholic allows him to code it as a semester long project, during his Hi-Tech period, which he’s using MIT App Inventor to do. “I’m looking to go into network security in college,” says Ray, “Bourgade is giving me the opportunity to help others with their technology and giving me time to code this app, which is helping prepare me for college.”
And while the school sets itself apart with technology, that’s not the only thing that makes it an optimal Catholic high school. The faculty and staff at Bourgade are composed of twenty-seven degree holding faculty members. All faculty have at least a Bachelor degree, twenty have Masters Degrees (75% of their faculty), and two have Doctorate degrees.
Bourgade Catholic also has fourteen clubs, fourteen Varsity sports, and a variety of student activities, making their total activity count over fifty. Plus, to participate in these clubs, sports, or activities, students must have grades which are college recommending. If they do not, they must attend an intervention period, at which time students go to the teacher in whose class they are struggling to receive extra support. Their small school size offers students the opportunity to participate in a variety of the activities, and, in the words of Ms. Lorie Piper, Assistant Principal for Student Services, “come in
“We are more than just students. We are family,” says Lindsey Rodriguez, a sophomore at Bourgade. In an effort to maintain the familial and safe aspect of the community, Bourgade has established We are Bourgade Strong, which targets cyber bullying, drug use, and many other issues that are afflicting teens.
Bourgade Catholic undoubtedly focused on serving its community. Each homeroom is required to complete a “Homeroom Service Project” which helps make their community, and sometimes even their world, a better place. “Student at Bourgade have high, Christ-centered expectations. We pray at the beginning of each class. We expect students to be responsible citizens. We focus on making our students active Catholics,” says Assistant Principal Ryan Watson, “ we meet the needs of our students.”
If you would like to help more students receive a “Higher Education with a Higher Purpose” at Bourgade Catholic High School, donate to Catholic Education Arizona, school code 202.