The Evangelist: “Catholic Central School launches Coding and Robotics Program”

Thursday, February 2, 2023 10:14 AM

Catholic Central School (CCS) has become one of the first schools in New York State to implement the Computer Science and Digital Fluency Standards. (Photo provided)

Catholic Central School (CCS) has become one of the first schools in New York State to implement the Computer Science and Digital Fluency Standards. (Photo provided)


Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week has been the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2023 is Jan. 29–Feb. 4. Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.  
The Catholic Schools Week theme is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” Catholic schools have a specific purpose to form students to be good citizens of the world, love God and neighbor and enrich society with the leaven of the Gospel and by example of faith.
As communities of faith, Catholic schools instill in students their destiny to become saints. Academic excellence is the hallmark of Catholic education intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person — mind, body and spirit. Finally, service is fundamental to Catholic education and the core of Catholic discipleship. Service is intended to help form people who are not only witnesses to Catholic social teaching, but also active participants through social learning.
The CSW logo (shown at r.) emphasizes that the Catholic school, like the Catholic Church, is not a building or an institution, but it is the people. As the people of God, we work together to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth and raise up the next generation to do the same. The image of teachers and students forming the foundation of the school shows that they are active people of faith who serve others and God. May we all strive to live in active service of Jesus and his mission as we nationally join together during Catholic Schools Week and always. Source:

Catholic Central School (CCS) has become one of the first schools in New York State to implement the Computer Science and Digital Fluency Standards, which will be required by the NYS Board of Regents in September 2024. CCS has been undergoing a comprehensive strategic planning process, which includes enhancing their students’ learning experiences with purpose-driven educational tools, such as robotics. There are significant benefits when students learn how to code because it develops their computational thinking skills, which leads to increased achievement across core subject areas.

“The research is irrefutable. Computational thinking (CT) unlocks opportunities for students to not only engage in authentic problem solving, but also provides opportunities for students to think about problem solving in ways that tap into both logic and creativity,” said Dr. Chandra Orrill, director of the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education and professor of Mathematics at UMASS Dartmouth. “Students who engage in CT can solve problems with empathy and creativity. They will be able to make the world of tomorrow.”

CCS has invested in the Photon Robotics Ecosystem, which is the only university-researched coding robot that supports students from pre-K through 12th grade and is aligned to the required NYS standards. Students in the CCS Early Education program can begin by using visual coding tools, while upper school students will apply Python, JavaScript and/or Microsoft Make Code to solve real world problems.

“Innovation begins with the needs of the student, not with the latest technology. Therefore, we have begun implementing a program that can be integrated throughout the curriculum from pre-K to 12th grade,” said Lily Spera, CCS Lower School principal. “We can introduce artificial intelligence to first graders, autonomous driving to fourth graders, smart city design to middle schoolers, while our high school students can apply computer science concepts and simulations in meaningful ways.”

“Our students have been so excited to learn coding with our robotics program. They became immediately engaged and it has created a new opportunity for students to critically think and solve the tasks at hand,” added Kristen Campito, second-grade teacher at CCS. “By implementing the STREAM program into Catholic Central School, our students will learn to develop not only math, science and technology skills, but also team building skills, cooperation, idea sharing and the value of trial and error.”

“Coding can seem like such an abstract concept and is usually isolated to a computer lab and taught by one person in the school, which severely limits access and the benefits for students,”  said Ritch Harrigan, Upper School principal.  “We are implementing a program that can be facilitated by any teacher so that coding can be integrated throughout the curriculum and in every classroom. CCS has also made a major commitment to support our teachers with a comprehensive professional development program, and many are embracing the challenge.”

As a direct result of the strategic planning process, Catholic Central School will be taking more intentional steps to develop and implement student-centered programs. Plans include introducing electives in engineering, podcasting and digital communications.

“It’s been challenging to combine a pre-K-to-5th grade school with a 6th-12th grade school and even though we are only in our fifth month, we are starting to realize the amazing advantages and opportunities a pre-K-12th grade campus can provide to students and families,” Spera said. “There’s a lot more work to do, but we are starting to experience the benefits of one campus, one mission.”

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