1:1 computer initiative for 2014
Milan preparing to put laptops in hands of students

Milan laptops

Milan teachers spent Friday behind desks on laptops and iPads to prepare for the corporation’s computer initiative next year. Standing, teacher Brian Moline shares how to use Google systems with other educators.


Mary Mattingly

Next year, every seventh to 12th grade student at Milan High School will have a laptop. Milan Community School Corporation Superintendent Paul Ketcham explains their 1:1 computer initiative goal is to provide their 1,200 students with a 21st-century education. This is just one piece of it, he said.
It’s a big deal, particularly for a small school corporation, and he feels good they are on board with this latest educational trend. In this area, he said, only Batesville has laptops for all middle and high school students. “Yes, it is becoming more prevalent in the state, but we feel good as a trendsetter,” he commented.

It means half of the students won’t be bringing home paper and books so much, but instead, a Chromebook, as the two-pound laptop is called. The students will lease the laptops from the school, and return them at the end of the year. The following year, they’ll receive that same laptop. That gives them ownership, to take care of the device. Currently, Milan schools have 250 mobile laptop devices. Those will continue to be used for the elementary school students. Sixth graders will have laptops too, but won’t be able to bring them home.

The school went with the Chomebook device because it required less IT management and has a cloud base for storage, according to Ketcham. They will then use Google Chrome as the browser. Their school work will be accessible through the cloud storage so they won’t need the device once they graduate or leave the school corporation.

The school will have filters to keep students from inappropriate Internet sites. Parents will be responsible for that aspect when it is at home, Ketcham said.

“It’s almost a social obligation at this point to prepare our students for the future,” Ketcham said. “Technology is here to stay.” Books and paper won’t be obsolete at the school, but undoubtedly, in fewer numbers. “The idea is we will replace books. I love books, but books are outdated a year after written,” Ketcham said. “We look at this as another tool in the digital technology toolbox.” Milan’s technology infrastructure was put in place the past two years, with a wireless campus last summer (2012). A low interest, five-year loan helped fund the necessary installation.

Ketcham said they’ve spent the past 18 months researching the topic, and visiting other schools as well, to see what is best for Milan staff and students.

As for the laptops, the cost should not be more than what parents typically pay for a book bill. At the high school level, that can be $250. Ketcham knows there is a wider range though, “We want to be more consistent and have more balanced or even book bills for all the grades.” Computer satchels will also be distributed next year with the Chromebook and each laptop serial number will be registered to a student. That way, they can keep track of who has what computer.

This past Friday, the teachers spent a professional day in training, laying the foundation for a seamless transition. Ketcham noted, “Teachers are on board with it. And there are some who embrace it and run with it. All understand though this is the language our kids speak. We have to engage in all levels of learning, and technology can help us with that.”

Staff learned Friday about navigating the net, Google searches, applications for the classroom, Pinterest usage, testing online, and My Big Campus, the web-based social learning network the school will use.

Kindergarten teacher Tara Obermeyer was intrigued by a Discovering iPad presentation from music teacher Matthew Hurst. He showed how to record a lesson on an iPad. She was excited because she thought she could use it to share with parents how to blend sounds to make a word, or even what strokes to use for writing.

Ketcham recognizes parents will need to be introduced to the new technology in order to help their children at home, and said they are considering various training meetings with that in mind. They are also going to have student technicians trained to help troubleshoot with the computer devices next year.

The whole idea is to not only engage the student in learning, but to keep them up to date with technology so when they leave school, whether it is for college or the job market, they’ll be comfortable and knowledgeable about technology.

Next year will likely bring some problems simply because it is new. “Anytime change occurs it is a bump along the road, but let us be a K-12 corporation sharing more ideas to make a better school,” the superintendent said. Again, he says, it’s a way to better prepare the students for what they do after they leave Milan schools.


Applications accepted for Angels program

Mary Mattingly

Although there is just the beginning of a nip in the air, it’s an indicator autumn brings winter, and winter brings the holidays. Thus, it’s not too early to think about the needs of others for Dec. 25.

For the seventh year, the Angels of Giving will provide for Ripley County families or individuals in need. It is the primary charity program for the county at Christmas.

Applications are being accepted at the Purdue Extension Office at the Ripley County Fairgrounds beginning Friday, Oct. 18. The deadline to apply or to return the forms is Nov. 15. Applicants must show proof of residence (must live within the county) and proof of income. A household of one can make up to $17,968 to qualify, a household of four, $36,877 and for six, $49,483. The form shows other examples as well.

Shanna Joseph, coordinator, wants to get the word out to those in need to apply, but she’s busier these days making the rounds to businesses and organizations to get them onboard for the charity program. Two months out is not too early to start. Without local support, there would be nothing to give to the applicants she’s sure they will have.

Last year, they registered 389 families, which amounted to more than 1,000 people. She said local citizens were generous and timely, and she didn’t have to shop to fill in or deliver on Christmas Eve as she often has in the past. Nonetheless, she expects the needs to increase. “Every year we have more and more people in need. It never seems to be less,” she commented.

The Angels of Giving program works in partnership with the churches, schools and other organizations for holiday gift-giving. They share and exchange names to avoid any overlap on charity lists. They provide for those from Batesville to Elrod to Holton to Milan, and all inbetween. Dale Ann Francis, a long-time Angels volunteer, said the name exchange is a good idea, and allows them to stretch their donated dollars, “You can help more people that way.”

Entire families are often adopted by businesses, student groups, scouts, church groups, or other families. The coordinators will provide the kids’ names, clothing sizes, needs and wants, which is filled out on the application.

The parents are often reluctant to put anything on the application they may need, but those who adopt a family often think of practical gifts for the family, such as gas gift cards, food gift cards, etc. Grandparents can only fill out applications if they are raising the children within the county, Joseph said, adding it seems more seniors or grandparents are taking over guardianship of grandchildren.

Bill Warren, who helps with the Angel budgeting, recalled two years ago how a former resident heard about the Angels program, and sent a $7,000 check. He was thrilled, “but no donation is too small! We’ll take $1, $5 whatever,” he added. People are very appreciative. “I’ve had a mother cry on my shoulder in thankfulness,” he said.

The program is funded by private donations and some grants. Also, they will hold a yard sale with proceeds to go toward the Angels of Giving. It will be held at Building 10 at the fairgrounds in Osgood on Oct. 24, 25, and 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The yard sale will feature new things only, such as clothing, shoes, toys, and household items, at a much lower price than found at a store, Joseph said.

Anyone who wants to donate items is welcome to do so and can contact her and drop things off at the fairgrounds. Joseph commented it’s a good time to buy for needy Angels’ families, or a good start for your own Christmas shopping. They can start to accept Angels of Giving gifts too, and reminded people to not wrap the intended presents.

Donations or checks can be sent to her at 2910 N. Old Michigan Road, Holton, 47023. or Warren at 645 N. Columbus Avenue, Osgood, 47037. She can be reached at 812-756-0958 or Warren at 812-756-2560.

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