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Middle school launches Chromebooks

Aly Lawson
alawson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Churchill County Middle School student Martin Towne cracks open his Google Chromebook for the first time.
Aly Lawson / LVN |

Churchill County Middle School students received Google Chromebooks Friday, a two-year project in the making.

Replacing textbooks, the durable devices with a long battery life are meant to enrich, customize and ease learning. Students take a digital literacy and responsibility class, and families sign a usage agreement that also has a damage and replacement fee structure.

There are nine sixth-grade classes equaling 680 devices plus teacher devices. Students are familiar with the Chromebook since CCSD had one for every two students kept in their fifth grade classrooms.

“This is a major checkpoint,” said Dr. Sandra Sheldon, district superintendent. “I think we’re moving in the right direction. I know we’re moving in the right direction.”

She emphasized teachers are still teaching; no student is being plopped in front of a screen. She also said they’re adding wireless access points throughout the school to make the devices’ connections stronger.

The Chromebooks were made possible by the Nevada 21 grant as a result of the 2013 legislature asking district middle schools to apply for this benefit. Oasis Online provides the network infrastructure and CC Communications the internet service.

“It’s an exciting place for me to be,” said Jaime Lawrence, networking specialist at Oasis Online who went through a similar transition in Dayton. Lawrence added he saw a surprising amount of responsibility from the students.

Sheldon said the city of Fallon has been using the devices for three years with very little loss or damage.

“Any questions you have, we’ll help you,” Nate Waite, the district’s technology integration coach, told sixth-graders Friday between power chord storage tips and responses to exclamations such as, “You mean, I can use this for my internet?” Waite guides the district’s technology-based curriculums and serves as a resource to students, staff and families.

The second Family Tech Night, scheduled specifically after the Chromebooks were distributed, will be Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. in the library.

“We just want to help everyone get their questions answered and provide more information,” Waite said. “Everyone is here for the kids. It’s a huge team effort.”

The district encourages families to take a five-minute parent and guardian technology survey at http://www.churchill.k12.nv.us under the school home page’s announcements. The survey will help gather metrics on technology access, skills and the school’s technology environment.

The high school will likely receive Chromebooks in December, and the elementary schools are gaining more devices per student in their classrooms.