RACINE — Leticia Poisl-Lopez has a small rip on the top of her backpack from carrying heavy books for her classes at St. Catherine’s High School, 1200 Park Ave.
Poisl-Lopez, 15, and her classmates will soon say goodbye to their textbooks.
Students starting in St. Catherine’s middle school program next year will receive a portable touch screen computer - an Apple iPad.
The iPad is about the size of a thin text book. Electronic books can be downloaded onto it, there is a touch screen keyboard, and teachers can use it to interact with students.
The technology will start with the new middle school classes, which are brand new next year and both have 27 students enrolled in them. The technology program will expand to all St. Catherine students sixth grade through 12th grade by the 2012-2013 school year, said School President Christopher Olley.
“We think it’s time to do something to take advantage of technology,” Olley said. “This is a small step for this age group.”
The students who are enrolled in St. Catherine’s new sixth- and seventh-grade classes will pay a $400 technology fee, which will go towards the new iPads, Olley said.
That fee will cover the cost that parents would have otherwise spent on books for their students, Olley said, which can be anywhere from $300 to $600 per year.
Internet is needed to access some of the applications, said St. Catherine’s Technology Director Zac Pawlowski. And almost all students, 98 percent, have Internet access at home, Pawlowski said. If students want to read their electronic school books in an area that doesn’t have internet, certain documents can be saved onto the iPad, he said.
Sophomore Maxwell Christensen, 15, thinks that the technology is a good idea, but he thinks sixth and seventh graders are too young to have an iPad.
Sarah Busey, 10 of Mount Pleasant, on the other hand, doesn’t think she is too young.
“I know I’ll be able to handle it,” said Busey, who is going into Sixth grade next year at St. Catherine’s.
“It’s going to keep things a lot more organized,” she said.
Pawlowski is not concerned about the age of the students getting the technology.
He visited a school in Memphis where first-graders had MacBooks and they took care of them, he said.
Students will be taught how to take care of the computers, which will be insured in case of accidents, Pawlowski said.
By starting with new middle school students, the school’s new teachers can design their curriculum with the technology in mind, Pawlowski said.
The next year, the 2011-2012 academic year, high school teachers will receive the technology so they can start planning their curriculum for the next year.
By the 2012-2013 school year Olley said all students sixth grade through 12th grade will have iPads or similar technology to replace their text books.
That would mean that by the time Poisl-Lopez, a freshman from Mount Pleasant, is a senior she will be able to use the new technology. She wishes it was sooner.
“We wouldn’t have to carry so many books,” Poisl-Lopez said, excited about the idea of getting rid of her heavy textbooks in the future.