SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 15, 2011

School laptop program powers up

By Paul Leighton
Staff writer

BEVERLY — All but about 100 high school students are either leasing laptops or using their own under the school's new "1-to-1" laptop program, school technology director Judy Miller told the School Committee last night.

"It has exceeded my expectations," Miller said.

The new program, one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts, allows students to lease a MacBook laptop for $336 per year. Students who own their own laptops are permitted to use those.

Miller said 1,010 students are leasing laptops and about 60 are using their own. The 100 students who have not enrolled in the lease program are provided "loaner" laptops during school but are not allowed to take them home. Miller said she plans to put three or four laptops in the Beverly Public Library that students can use after school.

Miller said 140 students are receiving financial assistance to help them pay for their leased laptops. The school is working to iron out problems with the wireless network that have prevented some students from getting online, she said.

"It's only two weeks in, but it feels pretty successful so far," Miller said.

The School Committee also honored North Beverly School third-grade teacher Jeff Chruniak for being selected Teacher of the Year by the Beverly Rotary Club.

Chruniak, 26, said he became interested in teaching after taking a child development class at Beverly High School. His mother, Laurie, is a school librarian in Lynn.

"It's a total honor; it really is," Chruniak said of the award. "I owe it all to the North Beverly community and the city of Beverly. It's nice to teach in the city where I grew up, the city that gave me my education. It's a chance to give back."

The committee also thanked Brian Caponigro of Northeast Regional Ambulance for donating two defibrillators for the high school. The donation came about after School Committee member Maria Decker expressed the goal of having all students graduate from Beverly High certified in basic life support. Caponigro's company will also train students and staff how to use the defibrillators.

Decker said her sister-in-law died of congestive heart failure recently at age 39, but her life had been extended a couple of years due to the efforts of a bystander who performed CPR when she collapsed at a mall.

"Maybe someday, somewhere, they can pass along the favor that was done for my family by extending the life of my sister-in-law," Decker said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by email at pleighton@salemnews.com.