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Take-home laptops available to students

November 28, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

Dog-eared copies of "Huckleberry Finn" and Teen People magazine are not the only resources available to holders of a high school library card anymore.

At South Hagerstown High School, students have begun taking advantage of a pilot program that allows them to borrow laptop computers overnight. Several students have taken home computers through the program, which began a few days ago, library media specialist Dave Williams said Wednesday.

According to Williams, students who want to take a computer home first must sign the library's rules for the equipment and complete a short orientation. More than 50 students have picked up packets outlining the rules and expectations for laptop use, and about a dozen in grades nine to 12 have returned with signatures from their parents to use the computers.

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Ten computers will be circulated, Williams said.

At Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts and Technology, where fourth- and fifth-grade students take home and complete work on Palm Pilots every evening, the technology take-home program has created no problems, Principal Kristi Bachtell said.

"We had no problems at all, very responsible students, very responsible parents," Bachtell said Wednesday.

The parents of only two students said they did not want their children taking home the Palm Pilots, and the school has accommodated their wishes, Bachtell said.

Williams said he suggested a laptop program last year to help students who have no working computer at home. While it is not necessary to own a personal computer to complete high school work, Williams said it does make it easier. Some classes require projects on programs such as PowerPoint, he said.

"I know we have a portion of our population that doesn't have access to computers at home," Williams said.

Lynn Miller, Washington County Public Schools supervisor of instructional technology and library media services, said he would anticipate making loaner laptops available to other schools, depending on the interest in the South High program.

"It's an investment in a lot of kids' futures," Miller said.

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