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Lakeview middle school loans students laptops
Emily Martinez works on her new laptop computer in a seventh-grade science class at Lakeview Academy. - photo by Tom Reed

Lakeview Academy middle school students could hardly stay in their seats when they received laptops for classes.

Upper school students have used laptops for years, but this fall is a new opportunity for the middle-schoolers.

"This is really exciting because my brother used a laptop when he went here, and he graduated in 2006," said Sarah Hutchinson, a seventh-grader. "We get to take these home and have another responsibility."

On Friday, the school held a "Laptop Launch" assembly to talk about safety and usage, and each student picked up a laptop case.

"We’ll be using computers in high school and college, so it’s important that we start now," Hutchinson said. "Computers are a part of life."

In each class, teachers handed out the computers and discussed the basics of starting the computer, setting up e-mail and changing personal settings. Martha Lipold, a seventh-grade science teacher, walked her students through the "checklist" that every class completed Friday morning.

"This is your password. Nobody else can use your computer," she said. "Nobody can log on as you and send an e-mail that says, ‘Mrs. Lipold is a huge dork’ and get you in trouble."

She asked the students to send her an e-mail, and several new messages popped up on the screen in front of the class with different subject lines — "This is exciting!!!" "Hi," "Do you like science Mrs. Lipold???"

Sam Dubin, a seventh-grader in her class, was already scooting toward his friends, helping them to change settings and Internet browsers on their computers.

"This is a big change and a big step for us, and it’s great that we can use all of these programs for class, especially online textbooks," he said. "It’s all about technology and how it’s getting better and better. The high school students have even cooler laptops, and it’s important that the smaller kids catch up with the technology."

The small Lenovo X100e netbooks, funded by parents, are on loan and ultimately property of the school. The students take home the laptops to do homework but turn the machines in at the end of the year.

"We want the students to become comfortable using technology as a tool to help learning and find important information," said Connie White, Lakeview’s director of technology. "Students come to us with tremendous technology skills, but they need us to provide the wisdom to help them make choices about how to use it appropriately."

Although a few parents have expressed concerns about responsibility at the middle school level and inappropriate website use, the students say it’s no problem.

"Parents should be able to trust their kids," Hutchinson said. "If they raised us the right way, why shouldn’t they?"

The teachers immerse the laptop use into classroom lessons, which helps the students to "be in control of their own learning," White said. The students are certainly paying attention.

"I think the middle-schoolers here are up to the responsibility of taking care of the laptops," Dubin said. "This is the first year, so we’re the test group. We need to be the representatives.

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