Grissom students tap into laptops
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/648-3154 April 11, 2013 11:10AM
First-graders Kailyn Hemminger, (from left) Jazmin Gallegos and Ramiyah Smith work on new laptops as the U.S. General Services Administration and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson appear at Grissom Elementary School with new laptops for students in Gary.
The gift of 57 refurbished government laptops to Grissom Elementary in Gary held a bittersweet sentiment Wednesday.
On March 25, the Lake Ridge School Board voted 4-1 to close Grissom at the end of the school year to save money. District officials say they’re facing a budget deficit of about $1.7 million.
On Wednesday, though, students in Valerie Savage’s first-grade class tapped fingers on Dell laptops that have been reconfigured to include the school’s curriculum programs.
Grissom Principal Cassandra Cruz said the laptops will follow the students, although it’s unclear which of Lake Ridge’s two remaining elementaries will absorb Grissom’s 280 pupils. Cruz herself is headed to the Lake Central School Corp. where she’ll be a principal at Kolling Elementary.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson facilitated the donation made by the U.S. General Services Administration. Grissom sought the donation through the GSA’s Computers in Learning program.
“It allows us to stretch our dollars,” said Freeman-Wilson, who said she’s examining seeking GSA equipment for the police and fire departments.
“Your mayor told us of the desperate need for technology,” Ann Kalayil, regional administrator for the GSA’s Great Lakes Region in Chicago. “We have a sustainable theme, it’s sort of a large resale shop,” she said of the GSA’s program.
Cruz, who called first grade a critical year for foundational learning, said the students will use the laptops to work independently on lessons that dovetail with their curriculum or they can use them to sharpen their skills.
Grissom received a grade of “A” from the state in its recent accountability assessment, Cruz said.
Darren Haygood, 7, said the laptop is already making a difference for him.
“I’m getting better at reading,” he said.
To learn more about the GSA’s Computers for Learning program, visit www.computersforlearning.gov.