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St. Peter the Apostle School in New Castle shuffling elective classes to expand technology, Spanish classes

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Students at St. Peter the Apostle School in New Castle.

A look at ways to bring back the technology class elective at St. Peter the Apostle School has had some unintended consequences, and they’re positives for the students at the New Castle institution.

The boys and girls will notice these changes as Catholic Schools Week opens.

The principal, Carlo Testa, said once school leaders started looking at how they could shuffle some classes around to make the technology elective possible, they saw an opportunity to expand Spanish instruction as well. Currently, students in fifth through eighth grade get Spanish, but first- through fourth-graders will be added to that list.

The keys to making this happen was the willingness of the technology coordinator, Michael Pursh, and the Spanish teacher, Sol Ibarra-Cohen, to make adjustments. In Pursh’s case, that involved agreeing to teach in addition to handling the everyday tech needs, Testa said. Pursh has taught a few classes in the fall, and they were very popular, Testa said. St. Peter’s had a technology class before the coronavirus pandemic, but it was phased out, and students have missed it, he added.

Teachers had been working to add technology into their regular curriculum, but this change will allow them to make sure their classes cover everything they are supposed to.

To Testa’s knowledge, the school has not offered Spanish instruction to the lower grades in past years, but now it will join electives such as art and music as part of the regular rotation. With the prevalence of Spanish in the community, he said, it will give the younger students some preparation for the real world and a basis for further instruction.

The ability to adapt to meet students’ needs is a hallmark of Catholic education, he said.

“This is what we do,” he said. “We’re Catholic schools. We innovate and find ways to provide more. We believe this is the way to educate students. We should have a robust program that offers them as many resources and experiences as possible.”

He credits the entire staff at St. Peter the Apostle for buying in. Their cooperation was instrumental, as “significant” changes needed to be made in scheduling. Nothing, he stressed, was cut to make this happen.

“It was really high upside for us,” Testa said. “It will show that we are considering the longevity of the child’s education and that we want to lay an all-encompassing base for things they’re going to learn later in life.”