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Dedham freshmen to be issued ‘netbooks’

By Michele Morgan Bolton
Globe Correspondent / August 21, 2011

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Dedham High School is rolling out a “one-to-one’’ netbook computer initiative next week to its incoming freshman class - and there don’t seem to be too many downsides to it, officials say.

Each student in the class of 2015 will receive one of the small, portable computers to use at school and home to level the playing field on access to information and prepare for college and beyond, school officials say.

School technology director Don Langenhorst pitched the idea last year to give every ninth-grade student a netbook, in a one-year pilot program. The expectation was that students would use their computers to enhance their studies through their high school years.

Parents will be charged a $100 technology fee to offset the cost of each netbook, valued at between $400 and $500, officials said. Children who qualify by federal standards for free lunch would not have to pay; those who have a reduced lunch fee would pay a portion of the fee.

A number of other communities, including Plymouth, have similar programs.

Langenhorst recently sent a letter to Dedham parents outlining the proposal as the start of the school year draws closer.

“As most of you know, we spent this past year working with you, teachers, and the Dedham community to explore a one netbook per child initiative with the class of 2015,’’ he wrote. “I’m excited to report that through your support, and the support of teachers, administrators, and the community in general, we will be piloting this initiative with your son or daughter.’’

Langenhorst said the district has opted for the HP 100e, which will be equipped with extra memory and a full Windows 7 professional operating system.

“This also means that while using the netbook, students’ access to the Internet will be filtered and monitored by the Dedham Public Schools,’’ he said. “And while the machine remains property of the Dedham Public Schools . . . it will be in your son or daughter’s possession at all times.’’

The school district will provide maintenance and virus protection.

Langenhorst is asking parents to write a check, get a money order, or pay the $100 fee online on the high school’s website at www.dedham.k12.ma.us/dhs. Checks or money orders should be written to Dedham High School.

Laptops will be issued at special technology training sessions this week. Children whose last names begin with A-E and F-K will get their netbooks on Wednesday at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively. Those whose last names begin with L-O and P-Z will meet on Thursday at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.

A “last chance’’ session for anyone who has missed a previous one is planned for Aug. 31 at 1 p.m., Langenhorst said.

He urged parents to offer direct feedback to dlangenhorst@dedham.k12.ma.us or by calling the high school at 781-326-4773.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@live.com.


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