Schools receive HP tech grant

COVINGTON - Students in Newton County schools will be more technologically savvy soon.

Hewlett Packard named the Newton County School System one of 25 school systems in the United States to receive its 2009 HP Innovations in Education grant.

With the grant, Newton High School will receive an award package of HP technology that includes computers, printers and graphing calculators, as well as cash and professional services, valued at more than $265,000.

"Our students will be experiencing real world applications through project-based learning and the advanced technology provided by HP," said Dr. Roderick Sams, principal of Newton High School, in a press release. "They will work more collaboratively to research environmental concerns and issues in order to better prepare them for tomorrow's global workplace."

The grant was awarded to a team of NHS teachers and NCSS officials, Newton High School Green SWEEP (Sustainable Wetlands Environmental Emphasis Program), who created the grant proposal.

The program will use science to divert water runoff from the school's baseball field and open area near the agricultural department's livestock barn to a not-yet-constructed wetland that NHS students eventually will monitor, protect and use as an outdoor learning lab. Students will design and construct the wetland, improve the environment and provide a permanent area that will be used for field observation and recording techniques, according to Dr. Kathy Garber, grant coordinator at NCSS.

"The practical applications of science through technology to environmental issues at the Newton High School site, issues which relate to the county and our larger world, become important, practical yet skill-filled learning for the students," said Dr. Steven Whatley, superintendent at NCSS, in the press release. "We are proud of the efforts of our teachers and administrators in seeking innovation through the grant and its recognition of their potential for achievements."

Science students at NHS aren't the only students who will benefit from new technologies next year. Students with disabilities at Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools and Sharp Learning Center also will get to use some new equipment, too.

Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home recently donated four Netbooks - mini laptops that are low-powered alternatives to laptops - to NCSS. They will be used for each of the academic resource classes at AHS, EHS and NHS, as well as at Sharp Learning Center.

"We are thrilled that our students now have access to technology right at their desks in their classrooms," said Cathy Stubbs, director of Special Education for NCSS, in a press release. "Providing the Netbooks to high school academic resource students gives them some of the vital tools needed to achieve their goals of graduating ... and becoming productive citizens and contributing members of our community."

In a program started in collaboration with the special education department at NCSS, students with disabilities will use them for support on such tools as employment, college and technical school research and searches.

"My students are overjoyed that they are now up to speed with the new Netbooks in their class," said Courtney Manning, Newton High School Academic Resource Teacher, in the press release. "They feel as though they are operating on the 'cutting edge of technology.' My students are now able to do so much more because of the convenience of the Netbooks, they really make a difference."