About these laptops

Elijah King, Reporter

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We can all agree that U-High is a place of opportunity. The greatest students walk through these halls, but do these great students have the greatest laptops?

Senior Sarah Angles agrees that the school devices are too slow, too ugly, or too small, and that most students inevitably stop using them. I personally agreed with these remarks until I sat down with our administrators to discuss the matter.

Jim Kurz has been the tech coordinator for over 17 years. Kurz, in addition to many other tasks, is responsible for the U-High app, website, and laptops.

“Most students are only surfing the web, typing word documents, or creating presentations. Nothing they’re doing requires that much computing power,” Kurz said.

The factors in selecting the Lenovo Thinkpads included damage resistance and affordability. According to Kurz, sustainability, functionality, and equality are far more important than design and speed.

“If we could afford better, faster, easier to use laptops, we would have them,” Kurz said. “But parents don’t want to worry about their students owning a very expensive laptop in case an accident happens. No one wants to pay a lot of money for something that might need a lot of repairs.”

In order to compensate for the low-performance laptops, the computer lab in room 108 has devices designed for  running more intense programs for advanced projects.

Junior Illyana Lin is one of the Tech Help Desk staff members. This is her second year as a tech desk assistant. Lin works with the laptops’ hardware, as user errors are more frequent than software errors.

“No laptop has never really broken down. If there are glitches, it just takes a quick restart. Then it’ll be fine,” Lin said.

Laptop repairs and updates have become a part of the school’s culture. If you have an in-class assignment due that is incomplete, restart your laptop and ask your teacher if you can go to the help desk. But when there is a real issue, help is only a few hallways away.

Page 58 of University High School’s Official Handbook (which can be accessed here) reads: “Students may not use any personal laptop, laptop, iPad, tablet or Kindle in the classroom,” yet there tend to be one or two students in violation of that policy in each class.

“There is a difference between policy and practice, and this is one of those things where the official policy is sometimes different than what is sometimes practiced,” assistant principal Steve Evans said.

Evans said if a student wishes to bring their personal device to school with the intention of using it in the classroom, they must first obtain permission from each of their teachers in person. If approved, the student has the privilege of using their personal laptop as if it were their school-issued device. If it becomes a disturbance, then that privilege is revoked.

“We cannot install monitoring software onto computers that the University does not own, so this means that we are trusting these students to act responsibly,” Evans said. “Being an administrator, I enforce the policy, so if a teacher decides that an individual student’s personal device has become an issue, they must abide by the policy,”

Between school-issued laptops, computer labs, and the room between policy and practice, all student computing needs are easily met. Have any computer questions? Visit the Tech Help Desk in room 226.

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