Technology comes to every Avery County student

NEWLAND, NC  (WBTV) – Avery County High School seniors lined up with their parents Monday afternoon to pick up a brand new Mac Book Air computer.

Every student from sixth grade up will be assigned one in the coming week. It comes after every student in the elementary grades, including kindergarten kids, were assigned I-Pads.

"This is to put the best resources in the hands of our students," said Dennis Brown, who was overseeing the project Monday.

It all began back in August when students at Banner Elk Elementary were each assigned an I-Pad for the school year. The money for the experiment was available when the new school was built under budget.

The program worked so well it was expanded with I-Pads at other elementary schools and now the Mac Books for middle and High School Students.

Superintendant David Burleson said it will give Avery County School Students an edge when it comes to competing in the real world with students educated elsewhere.

"It will also attract the attention of business and Industry," he said.

Burleson and others hope companies will see what is happening in Avery County and possibly consider moving their and bringing in new jobs.

"They will see that by the time our students get out of the school they already have the skills for the 21sr century."

The computers all have specific programs installed by the school system and have filters that will restrict what web sites students can access. Included in the prohibited sites is Facebook

"Much to the dismay of our students," said one official. The computers can be taken home but everyone was required to sign a form saying they would take care of the computers.

Of the 800 I-Pads already handed out, officials say only two have been damaged.  All the computers were acquired under a lease program with Apple that will cost the system two million dollars over the next four years.

Every summer, after students turn the items in, they will be refreshed and new programs will be installed, if necessary.

In the elementary schools, teachers said Monday the biggest challenge has been keeping up with the students. "We are having to constantly play catch up," said one teacher.

Test scores in all areas have improved already said officials. They are hoping the trend continues.

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