By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
KEOKUK — At the start of its 164th school year, one of the oldest Catholic school systems in the state is in the midst of receiving a few upgrades.
Keokuk Catholic Schools/St. Vincent has completed several new curricula, technology and faculty projects over the last few months. Funding has come mainly from last year’s insurance recovery efforts and grants, said Principal Darren MacArthur.
St. Vincent School serves pre-kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students.
The school replaced its 1964 manual-setup bleachers with new ADA-compatible, power-telescopic bleachers. “The new system seats nearly 280 people and simply rolls out with a push of a button,” MacArthur said. The power setup means the school can easily condense the bleachers to make more space for activities and assemblies, like this year’s Back to School event, held in August.
Southeastern Community College-Keokuk, which uses the gym for its Women’s Basketball program, helped offset cost of the bleachers. “They’ve been a community partner for several years,” MacArthur said. The gymnasium received new LED lighting, as well.
Every clock in the school will now be in-sync, thanks to a new wireless system that automatically sets the building’s clocks through a master controller. McArthur said uniform timekeeping will reduce wasted transition times and class overlaps. “It may not seem like a big deal, but five minutes of lost instructional time, because every clock is different, can mean as much as 15-20 percent of a specialist’s instructional time lost for our elementary kids. We work very hard to maximize instruction and this new system will help ensure consistent practices.”
The flooring in the cafeteria, teacher lounge and library were replaced, and a new LED marquee and sitting area were installed outside St. Vincent’s.
Teachers received updates to their Guided Reading Resources — 120 new titles total — with each teacher receiving six books. Wi-fi has also been installed building-wide, MacArthur said.
Enhancements will continue throughout the school year, as St. Vincent recently received $31,300 from the Howard Jackson Family Trust Foundation for new technology and facility repairs. The plan is to purchase 20 new classroom Chromebooks for students, two new interactive whiteboards and two new administrative laptops.