By Dan Bewley & Terry Hood, The News On 6
CATOOSA, OKLAHOMA – Middle school students in Catoosa received a special back-to-school gift Thursday.
More than 400 kids are now the proud owners of new laptop computers.
"I haven't even got on it yet and I just know I like it," said Arlond Williams, a seventh grade student.
Every 6th, 7th, and 8th grader at Wells Middle School will get to use it until they graduate.
"It's pretty awesome," said Nick McCauley, a seventh grade student.
"It's cool," Marissa Moore, a seventh grade student, said.
"It's really awesome," Kelsi Fields, a seventh grade student, said.
The laptops come courtesy of a $719,000 grant in stimulus money given to the Oklahoma Department of Education.
The money could only be spent on what are called innovative programs. Wells Middle School is one of 19 Oklahoma schools chosen to receive the grant.
"It gives them a huge head start in the world," Della Parrish, Principal.
The 7th and 8th graders get to take their laptops home, the 6th graders must keep theirs at the school and the kids do not get to use them during the summer.
Each computer is wired for the Internet, but has filters blocking certain sites and each one has a web cam but school officials cannot activate the cameras.
The kids already know how they plan to use them.
"Do homework and stuff and get school work done with it," McCauley said.
"You can get references from the Internet and help you with schoolwork and stuff," Moore said.
The principal says the students won't use the laptops all of the time but, she says, it will make it easier for them to take notes and get them used to technology.
"We've got kids who are coming back now who are college freshman and sophomores talking about how hard it is to be able to work with computers the way they need to," Principal Parrish said. "Well, our kids, by the time they graduate from high school, they will have had five years."
A recently passed bond in Catoosa will pay for each student to receive a computer when they enter the seventh grade. The goal is to get it where every student from 7th to 12th grade will have their own laptop.