AUSTINTOWN Pupils get a lesson in video technology

Video teleconference technology gives students in different buildings the chance to interact.
AUSTINTOWN -- Ten-year-old Nicole Pavlichich seemed to enjoy having high school students as teachers Monday morning -- except when the students held up a sheep's heart.
"It was gross when they showed the heart," Nicole said. She was one of the fourth-graders from Watson Elementary School in Austintown who watched as South Range High School students talked on a film screen about similarities between human and sheep hearts.
Video teleconference technology allowed the Watson pupils to speak with and see the South Range students while the students gave a presentation about the human heart. It was one of about 12 video telecommunications presentations that has been given in the Austintown schools this school year.
After Monday's presentation, the Watson pupils said they were looking forward to future lessons from teachers using telecommunications technology.
"It was cool," said Steven Vesey, 10.
Happy with results
Tom Ventresco, the technology coordinator for the Austintown schools, said he felt the school district had "done really good, quality work," using the technology.
"The school-to-school stuff is excellent," Ventresco said. "It's a fantastic tool if you want to teach at both ends." He noted that the Austintown schools participated in about six telecommunications presentations last year.
Equipment for the presentations was purchased using a state grant.
On Monday, several South Range students described the heart and the circulatory system for the Watson pupils using drawings, medical equipment and the sheep's heart. The South Range students, who were from Brad Pornichak's living systems class, were in their classroom at their school, while the Watson students, who were from Bernadette Pornichak's class, were in a lecture hall at Fitch High School. Bernadette Pornichak is Brad Pornichak's mother.
As part of the presentation, South Range seniors Kristin Skrinyer and Crystal Schuler, both 18, had fourth-grader Carl Makkar, 10, take the blood pressure of his classmate Andrea Dockry, also 10. Skrinyer and Schuler also had the Watson pupils measure their pulse before and after performing jumping jacks.
The pupils were then able to ask Skrinyer and Schuler questions using a microphone. Skrinyer noted that at times, she had to listen carefully to understand the pupils' questions as they came through the speaker at South Range.
"We have to be very patient," Skrinyer said. Senior Jenn Toth, 18, added that she enjoyed teaching the pupils, even though she had a somewhat uncomfortable moment during the lesson.
"I started laughing, so that wasn't good," Toth said.
Brad Pornichak said his students also learned about the human heart by preparing for the lesson, while Bernadette Pornichak added that she thought it was nice to teach a class with her son. Bernadette Pornichak said she can see "endless" applications for the technology in the future.
Austintown Superintendent Rich Denamen said he feels that in the future, school administrators might be able to use the technology to attend meetings in Columbus without leaving the district.
"If [the pupils] can do it, why can't the adults utilize it?" Denamen said.

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