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North High called 'museum of computers'

June 29, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

It's Washington County's largest school and it underwent a major renovation just six years ago.

But North Hagerstown High School is one of the most technologically challenged high schools in Washington County.

There are only 14 computers in the school listed as high capability, meaning they use Pentium processors or the Macintosh equivalent. More than 100 are considered by the school board as low capability, meaning they use an Intel 386 processor or lower.

In contrast, Boonsboro High School has 122 high-capability computers, Smithsburg has 74 and Williamsport has 71, according to school records.

Only South High Hagerstown High, which has not yet undergone a planned renovation, has fewer high-capability computers than North High, with 11.

But North High has built a "mishmash" of computers on its own, said social studies teacher George Cassutto, who has made wide use of computers in his classes.

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"I've got basically a museum of computers going on here," he said, citing the 16 computers that fill his classroom. They range from old Intel 8086 processors to one Pentium II.

Most were donated or purchased with money from grants and fund-raisers, and two were built by students. Although the North High renovation did not include wiring for computer networking, a mini-network enables five computers in the classroom to share Internet access.

"This is truly staff and kids overcoming the shortcomings and making do with what we have," Cassutto said.

The 1992 renovation also did not include a new telephone system, which is desperately needed, said Principal David F. Reeder

"Here we are, the biggest school in the county and we have 10 (phone) lines that come into the building," Reeder said.

Reeder acknowledges it's tough to sell the need for a $30,000 phone system when many parents want to see more money going into classrooms, but there is a benefit.

"Having well-equipped, safe buildings is an important aspect of education," Reeder said.

He is serving on a committee that is studying the system's 45 schools and other facilities, to see what needs to be done in each building and what kind of priority each project should have.

"So nobody's surprised down the road when these improvements need to be done," said Reeder.

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