Catholic Schools Week: New classroom space at St. Bernard Regional Catholic helps students stay focused

By Maria Guzzo
Contributing Writer

INDIANA — Student population growth was a good problem to have at St. Bernard Regional Catholic School, and administrators this year solved the challenge by installing a modular classroom next to the school building.

Over the past couple years, adding a second pre-school class and splitting a classroom of sixth- through eighth-graders into two classes necessitated that library and tech territory be revamped as classroom space.

“All the teachers have been very flexible this past school year,” Principal Tina Bucci said. “The technology teacher went on the move into each class since she lost her room. But now everybody has their space back.”

The new unit includes two classrooms, which grades 4-8 rotate into through the course of the school day. One classroom is used to teach social studies and health. The other is used primarily for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM.)

Bucci said the specified classrooms motivate students to concentrate on individual subjects. The STEM classroom has a sink, locked cabinets for chemicals used in experiments and a greenhouse, while the social studies/health room has geography maps and health posters.

“It does help students stay more focused,” she said.

Students also learned about the construction process as they observed installation of 33 cement piers to create a solid base, and later viewed the modular unit roll into place on the foundation.

“We were all outside to see all the equipment and hear the noise,” she said. “Preschool through eighth grade was watching the whole process.”

To fund the new space, administrators had to stay focused on the process of applying for a grant from the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (EANS) program, which offers funding to provide services or assistance to address the impact of COVID-19. 

The $355,000 EANS grant paid for not only the modular unit, which enables students to maintain a healthy physical distance, but also cleaning products, furnace filters, floor cleaners, air purifiers, touchless faucets and furniture. Bucci said the requested items had to fall into approved categories; plus grant regulations required multiple inspections and electrical upgrades that had to be complete before the modular unit finally could be occupied in November.


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