Queen of Apostles School in Pewaukee plans to give each student from fifth through eighth grade a new Acer Netbook tomorrow.
The initiative will put technology in the hands of students earlier than any school in the area. While a few schools have provided high school students with laptops, none have reached all the way down to the fifth grade level.
"Parochial schools are often thought of as behind the mainstream in terms of technology, not at the forefront as in this case," a statement from the school said. "This is a significant investment in the school and students that will truly set the bar for other area schools."
Fifth through eighth grade students will pay a yearly $150 technology fee to fund the initiative, but after their time at Queen of Apostles the Netbooks will be theirs to take to high school. School officials said that this year, because eight grade students would only pay the technology fee one time, they would be asked to pay a "buyout fee" at the end of the year if they wanted to keep their Netbooks for high school. The buyout would cover the difference between the $150 technology fee and the $275 cost of the machine.
The school envisions students carrying their Netbooks from class to class, just as they would a textbook. Students will use their Netbooks to take notes and interact with classroom Smart Boards. The notebooks will also be instrumental for math homework, reading, writing and to conduct research.
"When I was in school the teacher would say, 'Why don't you go over to the encyclopedia and find the answer to that,'" said Queen of Apostles, Principle, Laurence Patterson, noting that now teachers will say,"'Why don't you go Google that and see what it says...' So in real time and immediately, they can do that."
Patterson hopes this investment will position the school for the future of education.
"We anticipate as a school that in the future our curriculum information will be delivered to us, not in written form, but electronic form," he said. "So in the future we'll be buying, not textbooks, but probably subsrcibing to curriculum services that provide this sort of electronic media."
Patterson said Queen of Apostles will decide later whether or not students will take their Netbooks home for summers. He said the middle schoolers will have to demonstrate they are responsible enough to take care of their computers before they are allowed to take them home.