Outside The Box



There’s a high school education and then there’s a Mineola High School education. The school district has set itself apart with its innovative approach to technology, being recognized by national and local organizations for its commitment to implementing technology in the classroom and winning an $8,000 grant earlier this year to further tech initiatives at the high school.

School board president Christine Napolitano cuts the ceremonial ribbon to celebrate the high school’s new Fab Lab, with students, school board trustees, administrators and other members of the district behind her.

Last week, the school district held a ribbon cutting for one of its crown jewels of innovation: the high school’s state-of-the-art Fab Lab, which students started using this past September. Equipped with the latest computer design and metal and woodshop technology, Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said the space merges old-school workshop and metalworking with new school technology.

“The Fab Lab is trying to get kids excited to think outside of the box,” Nagler said. Every student at the high school gets introduced to the Fab Lab in eighth-grade and if they have additional interest, there is more coursework they can pursue in later grades. “We’re purposeful in exposing every student to what we have and what they can potentially take as electives later on.”

The ribbon cutting allowed members of the community to tour the Fab Lab space and see student-created projects. The Fab Lab allows students unlimited opportunities to create, be it with wood, steel, leather, glass or a variety of other mediums. Equipment such as the Boss Laser Cutter and Engraver and Roland Vinyl Printer and Cutter is complemented by MacBooks and PCs.

Molly Donelan, Marina Iodice and Katherine Quintanilla show off metal bracelets and wooden spoons personalized in the Fab Lab.

Junior Katherine Quintanilla said the Fab Lab is a place “where students could go free.”
“You can do whatever you want. It clears your mind. You can work with different machines and create whatever design you want, anything is possible,” she said. “This is where you let your imagination out.”

Nagler said the district is hoping to partner with Queensborough Community College to offer students who complete the course a manufacturing and entrepreneurship certificate. A similar certificate is already offered for information and technology.

“We’re giving students ample space in an innovative environment that enables them to be creative, think creatively and create fantastic products,” said high school principal Dr. Whittney Smith. “This allows them an experience other students on Long Island don’t get.”

Student creations were on display at the Fab Lab.

In addition to a ribbon cutting for the Fab Lab, the district held an open house where community members were able to see facility improvements at the high school. Attendees toured the renovated music suite, which includes more storage space, practice rooms for small group lessons, an upgraded audio system and reconfiguration of the learning space to go from two ensemble rehearsal rooms to three. Attendees also viewed new implementations at the library, including the addition of portable Chromebooks, flex seating and virtual reality computers, and learned about recent improvements to the athletic fields.
Kayla Orefice helped lead a tour group around to see the renovations and said her favorite was the new music suite.

“Having the upgraded music wing showed that the school really cared about our music education and wanted us to have the best education we could have,” said Orefice, who takes two music classes and is in the marching band. “That meant a lot to me. I’m really happy with everything they’ve done.”

Parents who attended the open house also expressed their pleasure with the district’s forward-thinking nature. Scott Cerbelli, who has two children in the district, said he thought the changes were innovative.

“They’re keeping up with the times and getting acclimated with all facets of electronics,” Cerbelli said. “That’s only going to add to students’ experience, life and future. It’s a great benefit.”

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Betsy Abraham is the former senior managing editor at Anton Media Group and editor of The Westbury Times and Massapequa Observer. She also wrote for Long Island Weekly.

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