DEL CITY — An excited Chris Elzie blurted, "I feel like a little kid on Christmas."
Elzie and 193 other eighth-graders at Del Crest Middle School turned on their new Apple MacBooks for the first time Friday.
"This is a neat way to start the school year," Elzie said.
The other students were visibly excited about the laptops as well.
Don Wilson, director of instructional technology for the Midwest City-Del City School District, said $189,000 in Title I federal grant funds paid for the laptops that will be used this school year by each of the school's eighth-graders. Additional grant funds provided training. The funds also will pay for laptops for 20 students at Epperly Heights Elementary School.
Title I school districts are those with a large number of low-income students.
Wilson said the laptops will be valuable in helping boost student achievement, lowering dropout rates and increasing college attendance.
"The idea is to give students access to their own laptop," he said.
Students at the school usually have access to computers they share with 20 to 30 other students, he said. But studies show schools with one-to-one computer programs actually show improved student performance.
"We believe students can really excel with the use of a laptop and a thinking, caring teacher on the other side of it guiding the content and how they use it," Wilson said.
Wilson spent Thursday and Friday at Del Crest helping pass out laptops and training students, teachers and parents on how to use them. For parents, he and his staff gave extra training on how to set parental controls.
"We didn't want to intrude into the home environment," Wilson said, "So we're training parents how to set controls to limit content and time spent on the laptop. I think the parents were really excited about that aspect."
He said school administrators are interested in replicating the program throughout the district as funds allow.
"We are treating this as a learning situation for ourselves," he said.
Contributing: Staff Photographer Jim Beckel