Cullman High School freshman Alex Hudson is excited about getting his new, school-issued laptop.

“They’re a lot smaller,” Hudson said of the compact Hewlett Packard computer tucked in his backpack. “I really like them a lot more.”

Fellow freshman Greg Booker agreed, saying, “Heck yeah, I’m excited.”

The entire freshman class at CHS were recently issued new, upgraded laptops as part of the Cullman City Schools 1:1 Laptop Initiative.

“I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this student-centered system,” Superintendent Jan Harris said. “I’m especially proud all of our students here have equal access to technology.”

Harris said by providing the students with laptops, it is giving them the chance to learn in a competitive, new way.

“It provides every student an equal opportunity to learn,” she said. “Knowledge is the great equalizer. We’re in new territories with this, like Lewis and Clark.”

Harris said since the laptop initiative began three years ago, many things have improved at the school.

“Test scores have improved,” she said, noting SAT 10 and ADAW writing grades were on the rise. “Attendance has improved by 2 percent and discipline infractions have decreased.”

Harris said she believes the laptop initiative’s impact on all of these issues stems to one centralized reason.

“They (students) are engaged,” Harris said. “They want to be at school ... and they’re not distracted.”

Cullman High School Principal Sheila Phillips agreed, saying “Student engagement in learning has certainly increased.”

Phillips added both the students and faculty are excited about receiving the new computers.

“They just couldn’t get them soon enough,” she said. “The excitement of our students and teachers is just great.”

Data Communication Tech Andy Palys said the laptop computers the students were issued are quite impressive.

“It’s a great little computer,” he said.

The laptops are Hewlett Packard Mini-Notes, each with a 9-inch windscreen, 1 gigabyte of RAM, a 1.2 gigahertz processor, Wi-Fi and Windows XP.

Some textbooks are pre-loaded on the computers, while other textbooks can be accessed online using the wireless capabilities at the school campus, or an Internet connection at a student’s home.

Palys also noted how the costs associated with the laptop initiative continue to decrease as technology becomes cheaper.

“It’s just going down every year,” he said.

The 1:1 Laptop Initiative is mostly funded by various grants the school system has received for the project.

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