High school computer network - Brief Article

High school computer network - Brief ArticleEDUCATION | A small Mississippi town takes a big leap in TECHNOLOGY by giving high school students their own laptops.

THE MISSISSIPPI high school that produced Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is heading for the record books in a completely different field. Hancock High, in Kiln, Miss. (population 1,262), is home to the largest wireless computer network of any educational institution in the world. And it's the first program in the country to equip all of its high school students with their own laptop computers.

Located in a state where one out of three children lives in poverty, and where . the average education expenditure of $4,250 a year per student ranks dead last among the 50 states, Hancock High is an unlikely trendsetter. But school superintendents from all over the country are beating a path to Kiln to admire and learn from the district's $2.1-million program. While some of the money came from state technology funds and the local school budget, most came from a special bond issue.

The system, which includes technical support for the 1,150 laptops provided to students and teachers, was installed just over a year ago, and Hancock County school superintendent Terry Randolph says it's still too soon to measure how effective it has been. But students living in geographically isolated areas 20 miles from town now have free 24-hour access to "the largest library in the world--the Internet," says Randolph. Because laptops can be toted around in a backpack, parents and younger siblings at home can also take advantage of the technology.

The region's economy may end up the biggest winner. With core requirements in junior high school, kids are computer literate and tech-savvy by the time they reach Hancock. By graduation day, they're ready to slip easily into computer-related jobs, which should make the area less economically dependent on its traditional employer, the timber industry, and on the new casinos nearby.