Tupelo students begin receiving MacBooks

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

Time spent in class seemed to pass a little quicker last week for Tupelo High School senior Ross Waycaster and many of his classmates.
That’s because seniors at the school began receiving laptops on Feb. 8 as part of the district’s initiative to provide MacBooks for use during the school year.
The rest of the district’s students – sixth-graders through 11th-graders – will get their computers at the beginning of the next school year.
Seniors picked up their computers at training sessions held throughout the week of Feb. 8 and on Friday completed their first full week with their new laptops.
But even after just one week, the campus had a new feel. Seniors sat in classrooms with glossy white laptops open on their desks, taking notes or electronically sending assignments to teachers through Bluetooth ports on the computers.
“School goes by really fast,” Waycaster said. “When we have our computers out, it feels like we’re at home.”
Teachers have also seen a rapid change in the culture at the school.
“It’s changed quite a bit,” U.S. government teacher Grant Pate said. “It’s a new age with the computers into the classroom. There are so many applications where students can be innovative and creative and expand their horizons with studying U.S. government.”

Showing innovation
Fellow U.S. government teacher Jeramy Turner already has devised a project to allow students to show that innovation on the computers.
They are working in teams of two to design a campaign for the U.S. Senate, researching a platform relevant to the state they have chosen and using the computers to create a pamphlet, television advertisement, newspaper advertisement and a video of a speech.
Turner and Pate’s classes have already begun work on the project.
Turner said he’s noticed that more students have been paying attention in class. Many teachers have used the computers to electronically send notes to the students who can then follow along during lectures. Students have also begun to submit assignments electronically.
“They don’t have to worry about writing notes, but they can just listen,” Tuner said. “It has really gotten their attention.”
Senior Olivia Steward said everyone has a laptop on their desk in her classes now. She’s even used her computer to make a presentation to help her study for a test.
When they’re not using them in class, many seniors have taken their computers to the school’s media center. There they may relax and watch a video during their lunch break or sit and type a paper while listening to music on their headphones. Or they might ask questions about how to use the computers.
Media specialists Holly Gray and Janet Armour are running a help desk where students can seek advice, and Waycaster and THS junior Alex Toppin have held tutorials to help classmates learn the new Macintosh machines.
Gray has also led tutorials in several classes, teaching students how to use applications. She said about 30-40 people a day visited the media center help desk this week.
“The media center wasn’t as full on a consistent basis before,” Gray said. “A lot of people want to come in and find a quiet place to work.
“The neat thing is just watching them teach each other.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.