By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
TREMONT – Most might not suspect Tremont High School to be on the cusp of cutting edge, but that perception is likely to change come August.
Beginning next school year, Tremont High School’s ninth-graders will be the first in the county to receive their own individual laptops, courtesy of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. About 40 laptops will be purchased at a total cost of about $12,000. These will be distributed to students much like textbooks, with their return expected by the end of the year.
According to school officials, new laptops will be purchased for the freshman class each year. Students who make it through four years of high school and graduate will be able to take the computers home.
It’s a fairly revolutionary idea for the small town, one that may seem implausible at first but slowly becomes more and more exciting when pitched by Principal Eddie Moore, who conceived the idea last year while working in his pasture.
“It just dawned on me: it would be great if we could put laptops in the hands of every one of our kids,” Moore said, although he admitted that it wasn’t feasible to purchase new, personal laptops for all 12 grades represented in Tremont. “You have to start somewhere. If you start with seniors, you don’t have the benefit of the laptops being used for subject area tests. We wanted to get the most bang for our buck.”
According to Assistant Principal Michael Cates, who mirrored Moore’s enthusiasm for the project, equipping freshman with laptops seemed to be the perfect way to prepare them for a world that relies on computer fluency as much as language.
“Some of our biggest classes are ninth through 12th, so it’s hard to accommodate all of them and get them into a computer lab as much as they need to be,” he said. “And even if you do get them in a lab once or twice a week, there’s no comparison to being able to have technology at your fingertips every period of the day … They’ll have that technology with them from first period to last. You just can’t do that with a lab.
“Everything is technology-based these days,” he added. “You can’t work at McDonald’s without knowing how to operate a computer. Just having that constant exposure to computer technology will be a benefit to our students.”
Although students will be able to use their laptops in class for taking notes or operating educational programs, both Moore and Cates were quick to dispel any concerns that the school would be going textbookless.
“We’re not looking at anything like Tupelo’s doing,” Cates said, referring to Tupelo High School’s recent replacement of traditional textbooks with computer programming. “We are all about putting pencil to paper; that’s how we learn and we think that’s how kids still learn.”
“A textbook’s really just a resource and this is just another resource,” Moore added. “We don’t need to replace one resource with another; we need to add to, not take away.”
Contact Adam Armour at (662) 862-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.