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S.T.E.A.M. Lab Dedication

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More than 80 people turned out for the dedication and blessing of the Roncalli Catholic Rev. Lloyd A. Gnirk S.T.E.A.M. Lab on Thursday, September 24.  S.T.E.A.M.  refers to cross-curriculum, interactive coursework in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, which encourages students to utilize creative problem solving.

S.T.E.A.M. Dedication (67)Rev. Lloyd Gnirk, RCHS President Emeritus, says he is both humbled and honored to have the new space dedicated and named in his honor.

“The honor of having this lab named after me fills me with gratitude and pride. Crimson Pride, that is,” said Gnirk with a smile.

“The hands-on and integrative learning associated with S.T.E.A.. is so vital to the success of students today,” continued Gnirk. “This lab provides 21st century education for 21st century students.”

According to new RCHS President, Ann O’Connor (Class of 1978), Fr. Gnirk has been vital to the success of the school that welcomed a record 410 students this year, the highest enrollment in more than 20 years.

“His efforts have touched the lives of countless students, parents, board members, staff, and friends of Catholic education,” said O’Connor. “It is very fitting that his name and legacy are tied to this space, the future of a school to which he has devoted so much.”

About Rev. Lloyd A. Gnirk

Reverend Lloyd Gnirk was also honored with the Honorary Alumnus of the Year Award, received a Roncalli Catholic diploma and gave the keynote speech at the May 17 Commencement for the Class of 2015.

Fr. Gnirk has served in the field of education for 37 years.  Armed with both his teaching certification and a B.A. in French, Fr. Gnirk’s first stint at Roncalli Catholic was 1981-1983 teaching both French and Religion.

He spent the next six years as the President of St. Joseph High School in Omaha. In 1989, Fr. Gnirk returned to the Crimson Pride to become the RCHS President, a position he held until 1996.  During that time, he also served as the Pastor of St. Rose from 1992 to 1996.  He then spent 12 years as Pastor of St. Pius X in Omaha, during which time he served on Roncalli Catholic’s Board of Education.  He resumed his role as President of RCHS in 2008 and became Roncalli Catholic’s President Emeritus in 2010, a position he still holds.

Currently, Fr. Gnirk is also the Pastor of St. John in Valley, Nebraska, where he has been since 2008.  Previous parish appointments include Sacred Heart, St. Columkille and Holy Cross.

Although he is a Norfolk native, Fr. Gnirk attended St. John (now Mt. Michael) when it was still a high school seminary and was a member of the school’s last graduating class in 1970. In 1974, he earned a B.A. in French and his teacher certification from the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He earned a Master of Divinity from the St. Paul Seminary in 1978. He went on to earn a Master of Science in Secondary Administration from Creighton University in 1984.

About the S.T.E.A.M. LabS.T.E.A.M. Dedication (72)

The space at RCHS features a wide variety of equipment and software, ranging from science-related kits, robotics, and a 3D printer, to media editing, animation, music production and a broadcasting studio. The S.T.E.A.M. Lab and associated coursework are being led by James Laville, a new teacher with a hands-on, interactive learning philosophy to have students think through and come up with their own ideas and solutions.

According to Laville the ultimate goal is to provide our students with 21st Century skills in a hands-on learning environment.

“S.T.E.A.M. is important because it is an opportunity for students to work without fear of failure, to explore their curiosity in the classroom and to apply what they are learning in their core classes in a truly cross curricular environment,” said Laville.

The lab was created and engineered by Creative Learning Systems, a Denver-based company that develops engaging S.T.E.A.M. and digital media spaces for schools. This hands-on learning opportunity was made possible for RCHS students thanks to the financial support of the Archdiocese Ignite the Faith Campaign and Catholic Mutual.

The dedication of the Rev. Lloyd A. Gnirk S.T.E.A.M. Lab comes almost exactly one year after the Sept. 26, 2014 dedication and blessing of the school’s Gustafson Media Center.  The center is 4,000 sq. feet of wireless and hardwired interactive technology and collaborative work areas with a collegiate feel.  It isused daily by students for study, tutoring sessions, group project work and for scheduled classes.  Three break-out rooms, complete with large screen monitors and dry-erase walls, are available to the students as well.  The space also features the school’s new Pride Café, a small business venture being run by the new Entrepreneurial Class.

Click here to read the feature story that appeared in the Omaha World-Herald.

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