2012-03-08 / Schools

Westlake Elementary turns 40 this year

Gala celebration raises funds for new technology
By Stephanie Sumell
Special to the Acorn

Toni Roy, a first- grade teacher at Westlake Elementary School, remembers the days before she traded in her pencil and paper for a keyboard and mouse.

“Way back then, we didn’t even have teacher computers,” said Roy, 63, who’s taught at the school for 23 years. “We used handmade visual aids, charts and posters.”

Today, technology— such as color printers, scanners and digital cameras—is indispensable at the Thousand Oaks elementary school, she said.

In addition to computers, teachers and students frequently use Smart Boards—large, interactive, touchscreen whiteboards that allow teachers to record each step of an activity for students to review at a later time.

Two students can work on a Smart Board’s surface at the same time using their fingers or a digital ink pen.

The system is connected to one central computer so that the teacher can use the board to present Internet clips and visual aids.

“We use all sorts of technology now,” Roy said.

“If I have a problem, I can ask even my first-grade students to help me out.”

But some of the school’s digital equipment is aging and needs to be replaced.

To that end, Westlake Elementary’s Parent-Faculty Association is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow, March 9, at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza.

The event is part of the school’s 40th anniversary celebration and kicks off at 6 p.m. in the Hyatt’s ballroom.

“Some of our computers are 10 years old or more (and) just limping along,” said Principal Jeff Rickert. “When teachers and students go to use them, they aren’t working. We’re trying to raise money for technology and have an event that brings the school community together in an off-campus setting.”

A portion of the money raised at the gala will be used to replace computers that aren’t working and to purchase Smart Boards for classrooms that don’t already have them, said the principal, who’s been at the school since 2009.

“A Smart Board is like an iPad in that it really provides a multimedia presentation to the kids,” Rickert said.

“ I’d also like to consider (purchasing) laptops for teachers, educational software, document cameras and color printers for the classrooms.”

Some of the funds will be used for technological tools that may not yet exist.

Rickert said the school will spend the event’s proceeds gradually over a long period of time.

“We don’t want to specifi- cally earmark the money too carefully because the world of technology is changing so quickly,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to be out there seven years from now?”

“Like it or not, this is the MTV generation,” he added. “The teachers here are doing a wonderful job of implementing new technology in their teaching.”

Celebrating 40 years

Tomorrow night’s adultsonly event will feature cocktails, a sit-down dinner, live and silent auctions and a DJ.

“Because it’s the school’s 40th birthday, it’s 1970sthemed,” Rickert said. “People aren’t required to dress up; we’re urging them to.”

Stefanie Wennes, chair for the event, said she and the parent-faculty association have been planning the celebration since October.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Wennes, whose 9-year-old son, Josh, is a third-grader at the school. “ It’s just a great way for parents to socialize with each other.”

Wennes said she hopes parents, alumni and other community residents will attend.

“Our goal is to raise at least $50,000,” Wennes said. “We just have to wait and see.”

Roy, too, hopes people in the community will come out to support the school she’s given one-third of her life to.

“Look forward to a wonderful gala night with a lot of surprises with good food and great company,” she said.

To purchase tickets to the event, which cost $65 a person, visit www.westlake- wizards.com/images/ordering_ info.pdf.

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