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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Veronika Etter, a second-grader at Queen of Angels, talks with Santa Claus on Thursday morning via Skype after he announced a grant that the school won.

Queen of Angels awarded tech grant

– Students at Queen of Angels spoke to Santa on Thursday through video conferencing, and the jolly old man announced a Christmas gift for the school: $10,000 in new technology.

“It was very exciting,” said Terry Lehman, computer teacher and technology director at Queen of Angels. “Their faces just lit up.”

Lehman said the grant didn’t seem real until the announcement Thursday and the media attention that came with it. He learned of the award Tuesday and was told he had to claim it by Wednesday.

“Even when I sent the email (to claim the award) I was still leery that it was a scam,” he said. “But with the media coverage, I thought it must be real; although, I haven’t seen the money yet.”

The grant comes from Skype, a free online-calling program developed by Microsoft, through its Santa in the Classroom contest. The students spoke to Santa Thursday by way of Skype.

The $10,000 is in certificates for purchases in the Microsoft store. Lehman plans to buy laptops and make some necessary software upgrades to stretch the money and reach the most students.

The school’s current computer lab has eight-year-old desktops, but the computers are even older because the school bought them used from Northwest Allen County Schools. Lehman said the computers are slow and much of the software is outdated.

Students have trouble getting through lessons, particularly a legally blind student who attends the school at 1600 W. State Blvd. The school, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, serves about 240 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Lehman said the new computers will be able to better run software for students who might be behind their classmates in lessons and for students with special needs. Buying laptops that can be on a mobile cart will get technology in the hands of students more than once or twice a week, the maximum time students spend in the current computer lab, Lehman said.

He said this will be especially important when students take most standardized tests online, beginning next year.

“We are very blessed and thankful to Skype and Microsoft for giving us this wonderful gift right at Christmastime,” Lehman said.