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Challenger students get their new Chrome Books

By Staff | Aug 12, 2016

They were piled one on top of another, hundreds of them, along with chargers and a case to put it in.

They were computers, and every single student at Challenger Middle School, as well as at every middle school and high school in Lee County, was getting one.

The Chromebooks will help the students learn quicker, complete homework assignments and even make learning more fun.

Students came into the media center at the start of their first day in school Wednesday to pick up their new computers and their accoutrements.

Eighth-grader Leslie Lozada liked her new computer.

“You don’t waste a lot of paper and it’s easier to type than write because my hands get cramped sometimes,” Lozada said.

Sydney Smith, who came to Challenger after she moved from Colorado, used Chromebooks at her former school. She said the ease of use depends on the subject.

“I like to use the Chromebooks for science, but math I prefer to use paper and pencil,” Smith said.

Tyler Szerecsen said he liked to use the computer because it’s so much easier to learn with it.

“I like to use it for reading and math and science sometimes. It’s pretty cool,” Szerecsen said.

Middle school students began receiving the computers last year, while this will be the first year for the high schools.

That means some 29,000 students will be armed and ready to learn. That’s about $8.7 million worth of hardware.

School Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said the computers have been an invaluable tool in student education.

“We’ve had really good results. It gives us more flexibility in how we deliver instruction. Kids have the ability to access so much from the Chromebooks,” Adkins said. “You have the ability to differentiate instruction, so you can meet the kids at their own level. The textbook doesn’t have that degree of flexibility. This is the way of the future.”

If you drop a textbook, there’s not much harm. Dropping a Chromebook could be considerably costlier. Thankfully, the has not been as much of an issue, Adkins said.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how durable they are. The kids take really good care of them and the breakage hasn’t been as much as you would expect,” Adkins said.

Terri Cannady, Challenger principal, said the computers have helped level the playing field for those who have more trouble learning or no computer access at home.

“The kids are more tech savvy than we are. So, I think it has helped many of them do things they weren’t able to do before,” Cannady said. “They do homework where they wouldn’t do it before and they learn a different way. It was an easy transition for the kids.”

Cannady said it was tough for the adults to teach to a computer, but many caught on and use it as a valuable tool.

“It’s been an adjustment, but it’s a great investment. Most of my social studies teachers have lists where kids have an opportunity to learn on their own, while math is more traditional,” Cannady said. “There’s no excuse for not knowing you had homework.”

Best of all, the Chromebooks allow students who may be out sick to keep up with class and assignments without falling too far behind.

“Kids can get their work done because they go onto the Google Classroom. You can be in another state and keep up with class,” Cannady said.