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Rockefeller proud of high-tech at new Jefferson County school

October 30, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Seventeen-year-old Lakota Demers worked to insert a floppy drive in a computer in a class at Washington High School on Wednesday and he talked about working in the computer programming field some day.

Meredith Douthett sat in a darkened room with about 10 students in another classroom where they learned about how to build their own Web sites.

Examples of the work were projected onto a screen as teacher Laura Borkholder talked.

In a studio where JCS Television programs are made, students worked with computerized production equipment.

Teachers and others remarked at the bright future ahead for the students in today's high-tech world.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller agreed.

"That is pure gold," said Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

Rockefeller toured Jefferson County's sparkling new Washington High School Wednesday to see computer-based instruction, and it was like being a proud parent.

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That's because Rockefeller was instrumental in the federal 1996 Telecommunications Act that established the E-rate to secure high-tech funding for schools.

West Virginia schools have received more than $104 million to help schools and libraries pay for the cost of wiring their buildings, paying for education technology and Internet access. Jefferson County Schools received $1.8 million in the 2006-07 year, Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller recalled in an interview at the school how there were court challenges over the program and "we beat them every time. I think it's one of the best things that happened in the country."

Old computers are donated to Washington High School to allow students to practice building computers, computer construction teacher Mary Ellen Burns said. The experience helps them work toward CompTIA + certification, a worldwide-recognized certification in the computer field, Burns said.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Rockefeller was scheduled to attend a Democratic rally with 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Anne Barth at the Berkeley County Democratic headquarters in Martinsburg at 124 S. Queen St.

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