August 9, 2007

Some Bolton High students receive laptops instead of textbooks

By Mandy M. Goodnight

Elisha Taylor sat with her son, Carl Taylor III, as he typed on a laptop computer.

“I could never have imagined this,” the mother said. “I didn’t have this when I was here.”

Taylor’s son is one of the Bolton High School students being issued a computer instead of textbooks this year.

The students and their parents were introduced Wednesday to the first public digital academy in the state.

Students in Bolton’s gifted program and 11th and 12th grades will receive computers to use in the classroom and take home for their studies.

Wednesday’s training included the students setting up accounts and learning how to navigate the curriculum programs.

“This is the first step into the future,” Schools Superintendent Gary Jones said.

He would like to see all Bolton students onboard for the digital academy and then expand it to the other schools in the district.

“This is the future,” he said.

Bolton High was chosen for its central location and because of its size, Jones said.

School Board member Pam Webb said she would like to see Bolton used as a model school for other schools in the future.

“This is exciting,” she said.

Back in the training room, students signed into their accounts and surfed through the programs.

Carl, 17, said he was looking forward to doing reports at home on the school-issued computer.

Taylor said she liked that it would be lighter than the textbooks on her son’s back. She also felt that he would be less bored with lessons on the computer than with textbooks.

“This is a good thing,” she said.

Christopher Das Neves, 16, came prepared for the training. He brought his own mouse.

The senior said he thought being part of the digital academy was a great opportunity for him. He plans to study computer programming in college.

“I am excited about this,” he said.

James Davis, 17, said the digital academy was something new, and he was glad to be a part of it.

“I like that I don’t have to have any books,” he said.

The school has been set up for wireless service, which will reach all the way out to the football field. An Internet cafe is being set up so students can have Internet service after school, and school officials are talking with local churches and community centers about being hot spots.

Security is installed on the academy’s 300 laptop computers to track them. There is a program to check plagiarism and to block students viewing inappropriate sites whether at school or home, district officials said.

Parents will be able to check grades and view assignments for their child.

The computers came through a donation from the Virtue Foundation and a state grant.

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