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St. Anne's School receives new computer lab

"They are so much easier and faster to use," said Laura Moulton, eighth grade. "It's easier to do homework assignments and projects."

Moulton was one of several students sitting in the brand new computer lab at St. Anne's School in Somerset. Before her sat one of the 25 new 19-inch flat screen monitor for a 2 GB PC-compatible processor. To the side of the lab also sat a new 8-foot automatic screen system so teachers can project images for educational purposes.

So momentous was the occasion that Bishop Peter Forsyth Christensen of Superior was on hand to bless the lab on Thursday, April 23.

"Most of the schools in our area have newer computer labs," Christensen said. "But I've not seen one so voluntarily set up."

The lab was made possible through a $25,000 donation by St. Paul philanthropist and Somerset native Helene Houle. She has made other donations in the past to the school as well as to the Minnesota Friends of the Orphans of Miacaline, Mexico where she helped fund a much-needed dormitory.

St. Anne's approached Sunny Link Systems, a family-owned computer company out of New Richmond, to organize and install the computer lab.

"We worked very hard to get all the equipment to fit within that amount," said Tim Whiteside, owner. "This lab would normally cost about $50,000, but we were able to squeeze it in at $25,000."

The machines and projector were all installed at cost, and two installers were paid, but Whiteside and his brother and co-owner, Rob, donated their time.

"It took about 200 hours with four of us working," Whiteside estimated.

Principal Randall Stanke admitted the former computer lab was a hodge-podge of outdated equipment including 15 bulky monitors. Sunny Link started with a brand new server for the school that is three times as fast as the old one. They also installed two high-speed color laser printers and one black and white printer, as well as the high-definition projection system.

"This is at least 60 percent more energy-efficient than the old lab," Whiteside said.

Appreciation for the lab is already apparent.

"We could barely use the old ones because the processors didn't work and the Internet was slow," said Marin O'Brien, eighth grade. "It's nice to have these."