In an effort to help students easily and collaboratively access online documents and resources, Sentinel High School DECA members worked with school leaders and peers to purchase 15 Chromebooks.

The project is this year’s undertaking by DECA members to improve the school, something they do every year in various ways, said Brennan Drew, the Sentinel chapter president.

Each Chromebook cost about $300. A cart complete with an access point and charging capabilities cost another $1,200. The computers and cart were purchased using roughly $13,000 in prize money that Sentinel teams have amassed over three years of participating in Imagine Tomorrow, a contest that focuses on alternative energy use.

The cart has been in operation for about three weeks.

“I’ve already used a Chromebook four times since then, so they’re getting a lot of use,” said Dylan Haggart, treasurer for the school’s DECA chapter.

“The Chromebooks make it a lot easier for us to learn and do research,” Haggart added.

Most students need to be able to write and do research on computers, but the computer lab and library only have limited space for students, said Max Thibeau, public relations/communications director for Sentinel DECA.

The Chromebooks meet needs of most students, like the sophomore English students, without requiring expensive programs, he said.

During Meredith Britt’s English class Monday afternoon, sophomores used the Chromebooks to work on presentations using Google Drive's Slides application.

The screens are nice and they provide fast access to shared documents and websites for research, students said.

“You can get more done with them,” Cynthia Larance said.

Being able to share documents and save them to the cloud means no more flash drives or worrying about computer crashes deleting work, Spencer Schock said.

“I don’t have to worry about losing my flash drive,” Schock said.

The computers’ speed also means less time doing homework, he added.

“It’s super, super convenient,” Austin Heaton said, adding that working through Google Drive allows him and his peers to share documents almost instantly.

Ezra Shearer helped the DECA students chose the Chromebooks and said he is thankful for their efforts.

The computers are versatile and easier to service than iPads, Shearer said.

Most students also are familiar with Google applications so teachers are able to launch into using the Chromebooks without much technical instruction, he said.

The devices are fast and work through Gmail accounts, which the district already establishes for students, Shearer said, adding that saving work to the cloud takes stress off of the district network.

Having the computers on a mobile cart means no transition time is necessary to take students to the library or computer lab, leaving more time for projects, Shearer said.

“That seven or 10 minutes that you just lost to that, you can’t get that back,” he said about having to take students to another area of the school for computer work before the Chromebooks were available.

The technology goes with the district’s 21st century model of learning and helps students work on lifelong learning skills such as collaboration, said Ted Fuller, the school’s principal.

“It elevates the engagement,” Fuller said.

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