MIDDLEBURY — This week, Northridge High School will become the first school in the county to provide a laptop to each of its students.
Northridge had its first day of registration and laptop distribution Tuesday, with other times set for today, Aug. 8, and Wednesday.
“It’ll be a big transition” said Susan Parker, Middlebury’s director of technology. “You need to meet the kids where they are. This is where they live.”
Middlebury Community Schools purchased 1,459 laptops, giving most to the approximately 1,250 students at the high school. Teachers have had the laptops since May in order to prepare for the transition.
Northridge Principal Gerald Rasler said earlier this year that providing the technology for each student expands the resources available in the classroom and at home. Using laptops means that students can access written information on a topic alongside videos, photos, audio, real-time news and interactive resources.
Textbooks, paper and pencil will still be used, but alongside the students’ laptops.
Students will each receive an HP Probook 4530 and a backpack that they will bring to school each day of their career at Northridge High School.
Students will pay $75 each school year in textbook fees to help cover the cost of the laptops and a one-time $20 payment for the backpack. Each of the student laptops cost the school corporation $568, with the districts’s capital projects fund paying the difference. The overall cost is also offset by the high school not purchasing new sets of textbooks in most subject areas.
Northridge also received a grant to cover the district position of “technology coach” to aid with technology in all grades, but focus on helping the school transition to computer-based classrooms. The grant also provids funds to allow each teacher a half-day of training per month for nine months, Rasler said.
At orientations Monday, today and Wednesday, high school administrators go over guidelines and expectations for the laptops.
Filters will be on each of the laptops whether the student is in or out of the school building, blocking inappropriate websites and social media sites. Repairs will mostly be handled by the high school’s technology staff.
No matter where you are, “you are responsible for this laptop,” Daniel Hile, assistant principal at Northridge, told a crowd at the first orientation Monday.
How the computers are used in the classroom, though, will be up to the teachers.
“Some of them are really, really excited and some of them have a little more trepidation,” Parker said about the teachers.
Rasler pointed out that several teachers had incorporated online resources and Moodle, an online course management system, into their curriculum already in past years.
As a mother, Stephanie Lee worries about her son Joel’s new laptop getting damaged, but hopes it can help her son organize.
“I’m not worried about how he’s going to use it,” she said. “Kids are pretty savvy with computers these days.
Rasler praised the work of the school corporation’s technology department for organizing and leading the implementation of the one-to-one laptop program. There will be plenty of things to figure out along the way, though, too, he said.
“It’ll be a learning process throughout the year, probably more than one year,” Rasler said.
While Northridge is the first in the county to provide a laptop for every student in the building, this is the second year for a selection of Goshen High School students to use laptops in the classroom.
Unlike Northridge’s school wide distribution, Goshen is transitioning to a one-to-one school a grade at a time. Each year’s freshmen receive a laptop to carry through their time at the high school.
Northridge High School begins class Wednesday, Aug. 15.