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Friday, May 6, 2016

Laptop launch is celebrated at MHS

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When all the business of rolling out computers to students at Monett High School was completed on Tuesday night, junior Stephanie Schumacher, at left, and her mother, Pam, sat down to look at the features the new laptop offered. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
The biggest crowd since graduation packed into the Monett High School gym on Tuesday night for the roll-out of individual laptop computers for all the students. Pumped-up music, cheerleaders throwing T-shirts into the stands and speeches kicked off the event.

"We want this to be a celebration," said MHS Principal David Steward. His comment cued the cheerleaders who performed to Kool and The Gang's "Celebrate Good Times."

"This is one of the most exciting things the board has been involved in," said Dr. J.D. Roberts, president of the R-1 Board of Education. "We think this will be a revolution for Monett schools."

Monett High School Principal David Steward, wearing a "One to the World, Cubs Going Global" T-shirts, provided instructions to the audience on Tuesday for how the laptop computeres would be distributed. [Order this photo]
Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann said placing laptop computers in every students' hands was an historic event.

"Legendary educator John Dewey said many years ago, 'If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow,'" said Jungmann. "Providing all students with high quality technology and teachers who are ready to use these tools to impact learning is the next step in our journey."

Jungmann said some patrons have been concerned that technology will come at the expense of "the three R's" or what was good enough in the past.

As part of the rollout of laptop computers for every student at Monett High School on Tuesday evening, cheerleaders performed flips and threw special T-shirts into the audience to mark the occasion. [Order this photo]
"While we can all agree that the basic foundation of education has not changed, and reading, writing and computation skills are a critical foundation for success in the world, I can guarantee you that those foundations are not enough for the students who sit in this gymnasium tonight," Jungmann said. "Success in our flat/hyper-linked global economy will require our students to leave our school proficient in 21st Century skills such as communication, collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, innovation and creativity."

Jungmann called the distribution of computers "an important first step in helping the students at MHS reach their full potential." Schools that fail to use technology are no different than doctors who refuse to use recent advances in medicine.

"Not using technology is no longer an option and is the equivalent to educational malpractice," Jungmann said. "Schools and educators can no longer refuse to adjust the learning model to take advantage of tools that can have a dramatic impact on student success. I am proud and thankful to be part of a school district that has taken on a new challenge in order to provide better opportunities for the students who walk our halls."

Steward introduced the 19-person committee of administrators, board members, patrons and students who began exploring the computer option last summer, leading to the "One to the World: Cubs Going Global" initiative.

Jungmann praised the school board for moving forward with the plan, The three-year lease agreement with Apple Computers represents an investment between $750,000 and $850,000. Steward in turn praised the technology staff for "countless hours" of work preparing for the rollout.

Students and parents were dismissed to go to specific classrooms. A video prepared by the technology staff was shown in each room, covering issues including: insurance, repairs, handling, cleaning, passwords, software updates and use of external hard drives. Students were directed to have no decorations on their computers or the authorized cases. All repairs must be done by school staff.

The video can be viewed on the school district's website, at monett.schoolfusion.us. Specific questions can be sent via email to laptops@monett.k12.mo.us.

Following the video, students had to complete paperwork and payment for insurance on the machines. Then in each classroom, students were presented a computer by a teacher.

Two representatives from Apple Computers, systems engineer Bret Siegel and sales representative Deb McMurray, were on hand to answer questions. McMurray said she works with school districts across Missouri. She praised the homework and professional development invested in preparation for introducing the laptops, and the organized way in which the process was managed. Other districts will look at Monett as a model, she said.

"School is like taking a trip on an airplane," McMurray said. "Students are essentially strapped down and told to turn everything off. When they're done, students go back to their lives. We're really offering students the opportunity of changing the way they learn. We're empowering them to use the technology they use in everyday life. We're hitting them where they live."

Students spoke highly about getting the computers.

"I'm excited about it," said freshman Hannah Pitts. "I think it will definitely help us improve our use of technology and give students a better chance to feel what it's going to be like once we get out of high school."

Pitts said the first thing she planned to do was go home and charge the computer up, pick the wallpaper for her screen background and explore the installed programs, like iTunes. Her biggest fear was breaking the machine.

Freshman Joyce Cummins said she looked forward to taking notes with the computer, rather than writing her classwork in longhand. She has a cousin in Arkansas who got a laptop in middle school and wished her computer had more cutting edge technology than the basic models students received.

Sophomore Whitney Turner summed up the general sentiment about the laptops.

"I think it's pretty cool," Turner said.

The district has purchased computers for all the high school students. According to office assistant Tina Wormington, about 87 percent or 627 laptops were distributed on Tuesday. Around 90 students gathered in the high school commons on Wednesday morning to view the video and most made financial arrangements and completed the paperwork to secure a machine.

Only a handful have not made arrangements, Wormington said. For those students, loaner computers are available to be checked out and turned back in at the end of the day.

Jungmann was pleased with how the evening went, but said the beginning of school on Wednesday would mark the true introduction of the computers.

"Let the fun begin," Jungmann said. "It's an exciting time."

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Surely there are some that may see this as simply throwing money against the wall and hoping it helps (improves test scores). This is a VERY expensive proposition that will continue to be so..with lost and broken laptops, etc. Maybe we should have talked to some students and educators where this has been done....like the students a Joplin who said that within two weeks there school had become a gathering of zombies, with absolutley NO intereation and everyone buried in their laptops. Or the students who have been at Monett, where there have been thousand-dollar laptops already previously available to students and how VERY few were being used and how they NEVER witnessed anyone using them productively....simply playing games, checking things, etc. These are true observatiions. You can not repalce good teaching by good teachers with computers. Also, we have the reputation in the area as being very uppity and thinking ourselves above others (like it or not, this is true) and with the huge media production made of this, there are many local districts watching very carefully to see the results (or if there are results). Thanks for letting me give just one other opinion around here.

-- Posted by common-tater on Sun, Jan 8, 2012, at 2:53 PM

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