Teens eagerly lined up Monday for handouts of free laptops at Lakota’s two high schools, which constitutes one of the largest digital tool experiments in recent area hitory .
The Chrome Book handouts, which will by the end of classes today will number nearly 4,000, were passed out at Lakota East and West high schools as part of the latest new wave of digital learning tried by Butler County’s largest school system.
“It’s a game changer,” Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis said.
Unlike most other area school districts that already allow students to only have access to laptops and desktop computers during class time, Lakota officials have embraced the idea – and spent $3.1 million – to make Chrome Books available to students around the clock.
“I’m really excited because I know I will be using it for a lot of stuff in class,” said Lakota East junior Abigail Niehaus as she fired up her new laptop for the first time while sitting among dozens of her classmates in the school’s library.
“It’s going to be really helpful. It’s been a long time coming and everybody is really excited.”
Junior classmate Tanya Kukruja said she was pleased about all students receiving the free laptops “because it levels the playing field for all students.”
“It brings more technology to the classroom and that is good,” said Kukruja, who especially liked the attached Chrome Book stylus allowing students to draw art and graphic designs as part of their school work.
In the fall Lakota Schools, which enroll 16,500 students, launched the new laptop giveaway by distributing the devices to all its middle school students.
Since Lakota East and Lakota West high school seniors are halfway through their final year, they will not receive the Chrome Books but rather will be given priority access to laptops and desktop computers during the school day, said school officials.
Besty Fuller, spokeswoman for Lakota Schools, said the decision to not include current seniors was based on timing and an effort to save money on purchasing the discounted Chrome Books in a mass order with $3.1 million from the district’s permanent improvement fund.
“It didn’t make sense to purchase Chrome Books for seniors who will only have access to them for a few months,” said Fuller.
All students receiving the laptops will have to return them at the end of the school year. The devices are equipped with extra-security to prevent abuse and can be monitored by school officials.
Lakota teachers have been in training for months on how to best apply the digital devices to classroom instruction.
“It puts so much more learning power in the individual user’s hands. This is another powerful tool for our students and teachers to use in their classrooms,” said Davis