Students Had Say in New Information Center at Maria Regina High School

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The community at Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale has adopted the following educational theme in connection with its 60th anniversary: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.”

Valerie Reidy, principal of Maria Regina, has taken those words to heart. A shining example can be seen in the revamping and expansion of the school library into the Sisters of the Resurrection Information Center.

Kara Fragola, a member of class of 2016 who is a freshman at Fordham University, assisted in designing the center when she was a student at Maria Regina. She received the assignment from Ms. Reidy after the principal learned about her interest in architecture and civil engineering.

“Maria Regina is really special,” Kara said. “The principal knows each student. She knew this was something I was interested in and said, ‘Let’s get you started.’” Like any good student, she took the assignment seriously and did her research.

She investigated architectural drawing programs to use for her rendering. She also asked her peers questions about how they study before she began her design. “I created polls and surveys about what they thought the library lacked, how they thought the space should be laid out,” Kara said.

“I found out that a lot of students like to work in groups and the way the set-up was in the library with the tables, you really couldn’t do that. We needed to come up with spaces just for group work,” she said.

When the project was complete, she shared her plans with Molinelli Architects.

“I was thrilled with this opportunity,” she said. “I was able to see what the architects did on a daily basis.”

The Information Center includes a main area where the book and periodical collection is kept, along with seating; a student study room; and tutoring or team rooms for small groups of students to work together. Computers have been updated, and the area has WiFi and is connected to a continually updated research database. Certain areas are sound-proof.

“The space is completely transformed. It does something for the whole school. It’s so beautiful and so inviting. I saw more students in there than I ever saw before,” Kara said.

Rosemarie Decker, an assistant principal who teaches journalism and media studies, said, “Before it was a beautiful, warm library, but it only had the appeal for students to go in and use it as a traditional library.

“Now, the way the design is broken up, classes can be held using the large screens, and you can still have a quiet area by closing the doors. Students can be in the small tutoring rooms doing collaborative working or talking without anyone disturbing the others,” she said.

The center is named for the Sisters of the Resurrection, who have served at Maria Regina since the school’s founding by Cardinal Spellman in 1957.

“We have taken the mission of the Sisters of the Resurrection and merged it with a modern look and modern technology for this generation,” Ms. Decker said. “We are honoring the past and traditions with new approaches, which is what we want here at Maria Regina.

“It’s now a lively space. There is a new energy,” she said.

Gabriella Musto, a senior who is a member of the National Honor Society, told CNY she has used the center for multiple purposes. She and other honor society members help classmates in the tutoring rooms in the back. She also uses the center’s computers to fill out her Common Application for college.

Reflecting on how she formerly used the library, she said, “I definitely use it more now. I will go in there and get more work done. There is more space, and it’s private and quiet.”

Another senior, Annalisa Eckhoff, said, “It definitely reminds me of a college atmosphere.” She added that the design input by a recent graduate “shows the students have a say in what they want Maria Regina to be like, and it shows how our alumnae care and how they want the school to grow and prosper.”

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