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Schools, HCC students collaborate on computers

July 05, 1998

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

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HCC upgrades computersBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer

Computer education has been identified as a weakness in Washington County Schools, but the community is helping to change that, officials say.

This year, Hagerstown Community College and the Washington County Board of Education entered into a partnership that provides college students with computer repair experience and gives schools computers.

The effort started when a member of the Washington County Board of Education was touring the computer programming department at Hagerstown Community College, said Jack Drooger, computer training coordinator at HCC.

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A student in one of the classes told the school board member that there were not enough computers for students to work on to gain repair and maintenance experience, Drooger said. School officials and the college agreed to allow HCC students to begin working on computer systems in schools to get their experience.

Last month, about a dozen students in HCC's computer repair course upgraded and installed 28 computers that were donated to Cascade Elementary School.

The school bought about $12,000 worth of hardware and software to upgrade the computers donated from the federal government, but needed someone to put the equipment together and install software, said Drooger.

A similar program was started this year in the advanced computer applications class at the Career Studies Center.

To give students experience in the class, they helped install 84 computers at Smithsburg Elementary School and 193 computers at Lincolnshire Elementary, said John Davidson, supervisor of computer-related instruction for the Board of Education.

The students set up printers, installed software and instructed teachers on how to run the equipment, said Davidson.

A curriculum audit released last year showed weaknesses in computer education in schools. While each elementary school had a computer lab, the quality of much of the equipment was poor, the report said.

Davidson said the programs involving Hagerstown Community College and the Career Studies Center are helping to solve the problems.

"We're looking for all the resources we can to help us," said Davidson.

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