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Laptops for Freshman

A look into Ingraham’s newest technological program

By Alex Childer

In the past two weeks at Ingraham High School, every freshman student was given a school-sanctioned laptop to bring between home and school for classwork/homework. Every freshman completed an application form including a twenty-five dollar fee for future possible repairs. 

The whole process of getting computers was very quickly hurled at the freshman class. While we may have heard of it earlier in the year as a possibility, it wasn’t solidified for many until we were given forms about a week before getting the laptops. That said, why did freshmen even get laptops? Why freshmen over the other classes? Are freshmen required to have laptops? Do the freshmen want laptops?

The consensus among the freshmen was one of mixed feelings. While many surveyed students said they would support the laptop program, each had some sort of alteration that they would like to see to solidify their position. One explained that it was because “personal laptops should be allowed” or “[the laptops]… shouldn’t be forced, but provided.” Students are required to take a laptop, and required to bring it to school everyday. Teachers explain it’s because “personal laptops could not have some of the programs needed in class” and therefore could hinder that student’s learning.

There was also a fee required when getting a laptop. If you did not bring money or a check with your signed application, it was logged onto your PowerSchool account as a negative. Note that you cannot graduate high school if you have unpaid debts on PowerSchool. Scholarships were an option for students on the free-and-reduced lunch program. For students who already have personal laptops, this fee seems like a waste of money, on top of money already spent on a laptop. 

All of this unhackneyed news about laptops seems very random, but Seattle Schools has had this plan in the works for a while. It is officially titled the “Student 1:1 Laptop Program” whose goal was “[to help] unlock the potential of students… through digital access.” It is the phased deployment of laptops to all schools, prioritizing high schools that “are in the most need of technical support.” All Ingraham freshmen over the next four years will get laptops, and when this years’ freshmen become seniors, the laptops are cycled back through. There is no mention nor indication that current sophomores, juniors, or seniors will get laptops.

Freshmen are getting laptops because it would be easiest to begin cycling though laptops with a freshman class, rather than having upperclassmen have laptops and then too many laptops being cycled through. Freshmen are also widely known as “the guinea pigs” of high school, because changing something for them will not deter them too far off their high school path. Since they are the first year, it is easiest to see what the laptop experience will be for all four years of their high school career. 

However, laptops can be an easy distraction. Unlike phones, students are expected to have laptops out during class, so they can open anything they want without being too conspicuous. It is difficult for teachers to accuse students of misusing the laptop unless they catch them directly playing a game or being off task; tab switching is fast, so it is easy to pretend to be doing school work. Although the Seattle Schools filter system blocks most of the popular game sites, there are many pirated or “unblocked” game websites that are accessible to students. 

Although the current plan with laptops is not perfect through and through, it is ultimately helping students. Those who didn’t have computers at home to type and had to rely on in class work time with computers now have the necessity of being able to work at home. 

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