Macaris donate new computer lab to Mercymount

Macaris donate new computer lab to Mercymount

Standing in the new iMac computer lab at Mercymount Country Day School last Wednesday are, from left, Principal Sister Rayleen Giannotti and Martha and Jason Macari, of Cumberland. Jason is a member of the board of trustees for the school. He and Martha donated 12 of 24 new computers for the new lab. (Breeze photos by Melanie Thibeault)

CUMBERLAND – Students at Mercymount Country Day School are being welcomed back to school with a new computer lab, giving them the tools to engage in more creative learning, thanks to a generous donation from Cumberland residents Jason and Martha Macari.

The lab, located in two classrooms on the second floor of the Catholic school at 35 Wrentham Road, contains 22 of the 24 iMac desktop computers, 12 purchased by the school and 12 by the Macaris. The other two are located in the school’s library.

“I’m very excited for kids to get to use them,” Sister Rayleen Giannotti, principal of Mercymount, told The Valley Breeze. “What they’ll use them for I haven’t even dreamed of.” The computers will give the students an incredible tool that they’ll take to whole new levels, she said.

The lab also contains a 3D printer and will soon also house a laser printer, Giannotti said.

“The hope is to help the children get their creative juices flowing,” she said.

Last Wednesday, Aug. 18, staff hosted an unveiling and blessing of the computer lab. The Macaris cut a ribbon and then the Rev. Joe Pescatello, of St. John Vianney Church in Cumberland, said a prayer and blessed the labs with holy water.

Before the ribbon-cutting, Giannotti thanked Macari for his forward-thinking in helping to realize this vision, saying the computer lab is a “phenomenal gift we’re giving to our students.” Macari, a member of the board of trustees at Mercymount, told The Breeze that three of his four children attended the school, and since starting as principal a couple of years ago, Giannotti has reinvigorated Mercymount and its culture. He said he wanted to be involved in enhancing students’ experiences,.”It’s a great school with a hardworking staff and principal,” he said.The new Apple technology, Macari said, is so valuable, as is providing students with hands-on STEM experiences.

Martha Macari said the computers will help the students prepare for high school and stay ahead of the learning curve.

“We really had a great experience here with our kids,” she said.

The whole process of creating the lab took about a year, Giannotti said, between coming up with the idea and the funding, adding that she’s grateful everything was finally able to culminate. The cost of the lab was at least $30,000 with countless donations, she said.

A committee including parents came up with some designs to be painted on the walls of the lab, and Cool Air Creations did the actual painting, Giannotti said. Chairs for the lab were donated by a Providence resident, a parent donated all the mousepads, and 8th-grader Alex Bove, of Wrentham, Mass., and parent Chad Solomon, of North Attleboro, Mass., helped set up the lab, Giannotti said.

The lab ties into two values that are important at Mercymount, she added: educational excellence/courage and principled leadership.

“We need to develop leaders who can be creative and intuitive,” she said.

Students in grades 5-8 will be given priority when it comes to using the computers, but Giannotti said she thinks the younger grades will be able to use them, too.

Mercymount already has a PC lab with 24 computers as well as 24 to 30 Chromebooks, but Giannotti said staff recognized the different creative applications that Apple computers could offer their students and wanted to invest in the technology to take students’ education and projects to the next level.

“Apples and PCs help in different ways,” she said. “We’re really blessed.”

When asked what applications students will be using on the Apple computers, Giannotti pointed to Swift Playgrounds, an app that teaches coding; GarageBand; as well as another app that lets students build prototypes. Pages, Apple’s version of Microsoft Word, allows for more creativity as well, she added.

Macari is no stranger to investing in Cumberland. The owner of Berkeley Mill on Martin Street and the building at 1 Angell Road that’s home to the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry said Cumberland is a wonderful community with great people who have each other’s backs. Among his latest projects, he noted that he has solar panels going up on Berkeley Mill.

He and his wife support other causes in town including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island, Mount St. Rita Health Centre, and the Cumberland Little League among others, he said.

A Smithfield native who moved to Cumberland 30 years ago, he said Cumberland has deep roots in the Catholic faith, so investing in town “is an easy decision for me.”

“I’m happy to be able to do this,” he added. “I’m happy to continue to invest in Cumberland.”

Sister Rayleen Giannotti, principal at Mercymount Country Day School, logs in to one of the iMac desktops in the new computer lab.