On June 17, they returned to the school for the first time to celebrate the milestone with the Class of 2011, and to reminisce. It was their first reunion in five decades.About a third of the class of 1961 — some of them visiting from Pennsylvania, Montana and Nevada — attended an 8 a.m. Mass and then left to catch up with each other at a local diner. What they all appreciate about their years at St. Maria Goretti School, they said, is the faith and work ethic instilled in them and the “sense of honor” that they have tried to carry throughout their life and tried to instill in their own children and grandchildren, said Les McMillan, a retired attorney from Los Angeles County’s Public Defender Office.They all praised their teachers, especially their principal, Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Mary Evelyn Slynn, who was scheduled to be there to ring the bell as she used to do in the old days, but her frail physical condition did not make it possible.The co-educational school opened in 1957 in the mostly Caucasian neighborhood. At its peak, enrollment reached 300 students, a large percentage of them members of parish families.Many changes have occurred since then at the K-8 school, namely classroom downsizing from 40 to less than 20 and the increased use of technology.Using the Cart on Wheels, a mobile lap-top laboratory, first-level students learn (or practice) computer basics and the older students do their homework and improve their computer knowledge.Students also participate in the Movie-Maker, where they learn to incorporate images and music to content learned in the classroom. The kindergartners use iTouch gadgets equipped with game applications that help them learn spelling and mathematics. Nintendo is also used in the classroom for learning purposes and LeapFrog educational toys are used as well.Faculty and staff are preparing to expand the school year to 200 days, following the suggestion of the archdiocesan office of elementary schools, said principal Mary Ann Fitzpatrick.Class time will be added to certain classes where students tend to struggle the most such as mathematics, social studies and science. The students will be given more time to develop their artistic skills in music, painting or drama as well as their capacities to take advantage of the new technology. “The school is preparing students for jobs that do not even exist in the present,” Fitzpatrick noted. “Five-year-old students are already talking about what they will do when they go to college, and we need to be prepared for them.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0715/spgoretti/{/gallery}