Friday, August 26, 2022

By Linda Peterson

Intermountain Catholic

DRAPER — Students at Juan Diego Catholic High School and St. John the Baptist Middle School found an expanded campus and a host of new opportunities when they returned to school last week.

The expansion includes a new hands-on engineering lab and eight science lab classrooms. Four renovated large-scale collaborative classrooms at the secondary school will provide greater opportunities for students to learn as a team. Newly renovated high school and college computer labs equipped with the latest technology will provide students with learning and research opportunities. The high school also added an innovative technology course.

It’s an exciting time for the school’s science and technology program, said Dr. Christine Celestino, director of faculty development.

“It’s been amazing to see how our science and technology programs have grown over the 17 years I taught Juan Diego,” she said. “We have moved from offering basic science courses to all AP sciences, as well as several independent research options. Our Academy of Sciences program is now in its 10th year. We’ve accomplished all of this growth with just four lab spaces, all set up for generic science classes. I look forward to seeing how we will continue to grow with the expansion that gives us eight state-of-the-art lab spaces, each purpose-built for its field. Our teachers will be able to do so much more with our students, and our program will benefit immensely.

Additionally, continuing Juan Diego’s longstanding partnership with Arizona State University, a Dreamscape Virtual Reality Lab is underway. This will provide a state-of-the-art virtual reality space, a dream come true for teacher Richard Perrine.

“Apart from my primary roles as a high school computer programming instructor, I can help establish an innovative engineering course that will immerse students in hands-on, technical, and creative pursuits,” he said. “The virtual reality program presents a very different, yet equally creative challenge and level of excitement. After visiting ASU and seeing the Dreamscape VR system in person, I am confident that it will be a unique and incredibly interdisciplinary experience for students, staff and our community. It’s going to be awesome.”

Five Juan Diego students visited the Arizona State Virtual Reality Lab from August 2-5. During their visit, junior Matthew Howard and sophomores Gavin Brady, Spenser Kane, Zach Abbott and Roberto Villeta produced two short virtual reality experiences.

“It was the highlight of the trip,” Perrine said, adding that the students are looking forward to programming more immersive environments in the JDCHS VR lab.

“Juan Diego’s virtual reality lab will also be a great resource for enhancing the curriculum of many departments,” said Tim Howard, a parent volunteer on the trip. “Imagine a biology class using VR technology to transport students inside a cell to watch a virus attach to receptors. This is exciting technology.

The new expansion is part of Juan Diego’s commitment to providing his students with the latest education in STEM subjects.

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