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Program provides laptops to RPS Students

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Coding is the language that runs all your applications and devices. It may look like a foreign language to many, but it’s second nature to those who put in the effort.

“Name a job these days that doesn’t use computers,” said John Bartucz, a computer science and IT teacher for Rochester Public Schools. “Can you think of any? I mean even farming, they have GPS in their tractors. And it’s a skill that every single student needs, whether you’re actually going to become a computer programmer or not, your going to be using a computer in your life.”

Inside school , computers are plentiful.

Sam Shockman, a senior at Century High School, said that he builds up his skills by creating apps through lessons offered in the classroom.

But how do learners keep that digital connection after the school day?

“They need their own equipment,” Bartucz said. “In the 21st Century that’s how homework is handed out. It’s all electronic.”

John Bartucz teaches computer classes to all three Rochester public High Schools. A little while back, he noticed not everyone has the same access to technology.

It was especially evident when he saw long waiting lists for laptop check outs at the library.

Bartucz said he sent out a message, saying “Hey, if anybody has a laptop sitting in their basement, just bring it to a high school, and we’ll wipe the hard drive, we’ll put Chrome OS on it, and the kids will be able to take it home and use it.”

The response was immensely popular.

It started a year and a half ago. Now, any Rochester Public School student can apply to receive a free laptop. If they qualify, they can use the issued computer to pursue their own academic goals.

So far, over 170 machines that would have been trashed are given a new life in the hands of a young minds.

Monica McEachern, Century High School Sophomore benefits from the program and says it relieved a lot of stress. “You know you can get stuff done,” McEachern said. “Because you don’t have to worry about going here and going there.”

A Century High School Senior, Gilbert Jordan, said it improved his paper writing capabilities. “If I’m like on a computer I can actually have it in front of me, sitting there, and I’ll be more focused and I’ll have more space.” He also said it keeps his attention in one spot. “If I get on my phone, then I’m probably going to get distracted by like a Snapchat.”

“I think there is a huge work ethic in kids today,” Bartucz said. “We have to get them excited about producing technology.”

“Really, if you want something, the information is out there you just have to go find it,” Shockman said.

Bartucz knows that this is a community supported program, and there is no shortage of those who want to make a difference. “By putting people together it’s pretty amazing how far we can go.”

The website for the program can be found here.

Kilat Fitzgerald

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