Texico embraces laptop program

Texico eighth-grader Amber Hepfinger types on a computer provided through Gov. Bill Richardson’s Laptop nitiative. (Staff photo: Marlena Hartz)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

When Texico High School Principal Rick Stanley instructs a classroom of students to “thaw,” they nod their heads knowingly. For these computer literates, thaw — a reference to computer data storage space — is just another word in a growing lexicon.

Texico seventh- and eighth-graders have been equipped with free laptops as part of Gov. Bill Richardson’s Laptop Initiative.

The laptops are loaned to the students until they graduate from high school. Students tote them to and from school, and use the computers to take class notes and do research and special projects, school officials said.

Implemented two years ago in the rural town, which sits near the state line, the program is a hit, according to Texico school officials.

“We want our students to be computer literate when they enter the workforce, and the program has been a huge success,” Texico Superintendent R.L. Richards said.

No studies have been done to determine how the laptops have affected student performance in Texico, Richards said.

There are 100 laptops floating around the school, tucked underneath desks in some classrooms, perched open in others. Less than 30 percent of Texico students had computers in their homes before the program was implemented, according to Richards.

The machines have been incorporated, almost seamlessly, into instruction, said Texico Junior High School teacher Breanne Green. The teacher said she generally designates certain days for computer use.
When she or her students stumble upon an unknown concept, she said they often pause in the middle of a lesson to “Google” the concept or word.

“What I have seen (in Laptop Initiative) has been all positive,” Green said.

Each computer contains a filter that blocks students from entering Web sites deemed forbidden by school administration.

Clovis Municipal Schools is in the process of applying to receive free laptops through the program. If the request is granted, laptops would arrive in the hands of seventh- and eighth-graders by spring 2007, said Dave Whitehead, CMS director of technology.