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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2002

Priory emphasizes high-tech

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Headmaster Caroline Oda has a goal.

Left to right: St. Andrew's Priory students Chelsea Kuwata, Hannah Stellmacher and Tricia Polupe use laptops during a lunch break.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

She wants all juniors and seniors to write a report using word processing, illustrate it with graphics and add music for good measure. Then she wants students to hand in their reports on a CD-ROM in a jewel case they've designed themselves, and deliver an oral report using multimedia tools.

With the emphasis on high-tech at St. Andrew's Priory, Oda's goal seems within reach.

"No matter what profession they go into, it's going to be an asset," Oda said.

No one would guess from looking at this traditional, 135-year-old girls school that students spend lunchtime in the courtyard on their laptops, pulling research from databases and browsing the Internet for their schoolwork.

All of the middle-school girls have their own laptops. Next year there will be one computer for every two girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. By the 2003-2004 school year, all girls in sixth through 12th grades will have laptops. And because the school is wireless, students can access the school's network on their computers anywhere. It's the result of a technology initiative the school started seven years ago.

"It changes the entire classroom dynamic," said Tedd Landgraf, technology coordinator.

Already, the middle-school girls use their laptops as textbooks and for research. There's Internet access and eight databases available on everything from Asian history to English literature. "It's the kind of stuff you used to have to check out of the reserve section of the library," Oda said.

Every teacher in school has their own Web site, which includes assignments, a syllabus and student progress reports. Parents can use a password to look at weekly updates of their daughter's homework grades and test scores and whether they were tardy to class one day.

But while technology is important, St. Andrew's Priory educators say computers are just one way to enhance the academic curriculum.

There's a 12-to-1 student-teacher ratio at St. Andrew's. High school girls can take classes at Hawai'i Pacific University at no extra charge through an exchange that allows HPU's athletics to use the St. Andrew's gymnasium.

The all-girls environment gives girls a sense of confidence, Oda said.

"I think girls learn at an all-girls school that they can get their hands dirty and it's fun," Oda said.

In one popular elective called Modern Life, girls do car repair, cut and build a bookshelf, build a computer motherboard, change fuses, pour concrete and learn simple cooking and sewing.

What are you most proud of? "The girls, when they graduate from here, have a sense of self and a sense of confidence that stands them in good stead for the rest of their life," Oda said. "They've also developed very close friendships that last their lifetime."

Best-kept secret: That the school is so high-tech.

Everyone at school knows: With the technology initiative, Tedd Landgraf, technology coordinator, is the school's primary troubleshooter and technology guru. "Mr. Landgraf has all the information," said Deena Tom, technology curriculum coordinator.

What we need: The school needs donated computers and printers for the library. Long-term dreams include acquiring the property at Queen Emma Square and building an auditorium that could hold the entire middle school and high school student body.

Special events: The Founder's Day ceremony in May to celebrate the school's opening in 1867. Also, May Day; a ceremony in January honoring its founder, Queen Emma; a Queen Emma Festival in the fall; and a lu'au after graduation.

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At a glance

• School: St. Andrew's Priory

• Where: 224 Queen Emma Square

• Phone: 532-2418

• Web address: www.standrewsprioryschool.com

• Head of School: Caroline Oda, who is an alumna.

• School nickname: The Priory Pride

• School colors: Red and white

• Enrollment: 500 girls from kindergarten through 12th grade. There are about 40 girls in each class.

• History: The school was founded in 1867 by Queen Emma, who had traveled to England in her efforts to establish a girls school in Honolulu. Under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the sisters of the Church of England returned with the queen. The school was transferred in 1902 to the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church of the United States, and was run by the sisters of the American Order of the Transfiguration until 1969. Since then, the school has been under the leadership of a headmaster.

• Computers: Each middle school student has her own laptop computer. Within two years, every student from sixth through 12th grades will have laptops. All teachers have laptops, which function as teaching tools and a wireless communications system for faculty bulletins and public announcements. Technology is integrated into the curriculum starting in kindergarten.