Photo: Ms. Wisniewski helps a family learn how to set up their "new" computer that they received in the giveaway program.
ESOL students received free used computers this spring from a special program that is run by the network administrators, Ms. Anne Wisniewski and Mr. Ishaq Osman with help from students.
According to Ms. Wisniewski, they hope to provide technology to students and to support students and parents who do not have computers to use B.E.N. (Blair Educational Network.) B.E.N is an Internet site that allows teachers to give regular class information. It is intended to help parents, students and teachers to communicate more easily
Ms. Wisniewski thought of this idea when she first came to Blair High School and later discussed it with Mr. Osman and Jesse Kovach a 2000 Blair graduate who was their only student aid at the time. They agreed and established the first computer give away for students in the SPARC program.
The network administrators have a group of about fifteen students who collect old computers from the government and fix them up. They are mostly Pentium, and few 486 personal computers. The computers are taken apart and bad parts are replaced. "I could not do this without many other people. I think it is a neat way for students at Blair to help other students," Ms. Wisniewski added.
"We try [to make sure] that every computer that we give away has a CD-ROM drive and most of the modems are 33 to 56K," Ms. Wisniewski said. The software used is free such as Star-Office which is compatible with Microsoft Word and Excel. "It also has a typing tutor and many choices of free Internet access."
Francisco Inestroza, a sophomore from El Salvador who received a computer during the giveaway for ESOL students, has found his computer helpful. "Before I had a computer I had to stay after school to do my schoolwork. Now that I have a computer, I do my schoolwork at home. The computer is helping me to improve my grades because now I have more time to do my work."
Freshman Daniel Lopez, likes his computer, too, but he has had some problems with it. "It helps with school work, projects and homework. It is going to help me to be more skilled in typing in the computers."
Because the computers have different software from the school computers, Daniel thinks it would be good if they were trained in using their computers.
Junior Ranold Pearce was very happy when he was selected to receive his computer. "I think it helps students because it gives them an opportunity to learn faster and to get a better education. A printer and a CD-ROM would be good for the computer," he added.
If you are interested in helping students by donating a Pentium computer or any computer components such as CD-ROM, hard drive, RAM memory or modems with speed higher than 28.8K, please contact Ms. Anne Wisniewski at (301) 649-2899 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr. Ishaq Osman at (301) 649-2834.