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A Summer Tech Tradition Expands
Rachelle Garbarine

On this sunny Tuesday in June, adults and students, including some middle-schoolers, are sitting at tables bent over laptops in the library media center at Cardinal Gibbons. During the summer when school is officially closed, this technology-focused group is busy most days updating the laptops for another demanding school year.

Inviting groups of current Gibbons students as well as alumni, parents, parents of alumni, and other school partners to help with updating approximately 2,000 laptops, has been a summer ritual for the last few years. This year, however, 6th – 8th grade students from area Catholic Middle schools also were invited to share this summer experience,” Director of Technology Lesley Coe says, noting that 3-5 middle school students will be participating each week. “The opportunity to extend this partnership to our K-8 schools really completes the full cycle of opportunity and engagement in our Diocesan community,” she adds.

For future students to become engaged during a summer is a unique and beneficial opportunity to discover their niche, as well as to transition to a larger school than they attended in the past,” says Lesley Coe, Director of Technology
at Gibbons.

Explaining the goal of this latest initiative Coe says: “Our Catholic middle school partners are family and we want them to feel like Gibbons is also their home and understand that there are engagement opportunities for anyone who wants to be engaged. And for future students to become engaged during a summer is a unique and beneficial opportunity to discover their niche, as well as to transition to a larger school than they attended in the past.” It is, she adds, also important for families to share in the experience of maintaining the school’s laptops, and to see that IT support at Gibbons is visible and accessible.

Tech summer group includes Catholic middle school students.

The middle schoolers helping at Gibbons this summer are offered assorted opportunities, based on their interest. They range from imaging the existing laptops to updating them with the latest software.  Additionally, they not only learn about the STARs program, they also sport name tags identifying them as future STARs.  STARs (student technical assistance resource) is a student-centered help desk that focuses on keeping technology at Gibbons current and connected.

On this Tuesday Jake Smedley, a middle school student at Immaculata in Durham, is diligently working on the laptop he has been assigned to update.  Explaining why he is participating in the summer initiative Jake, who hopes to attend Gibbons, says: “I’m interested in technology and want to learn more about computers, and eventually want to be a STAR.”

What does he enjoy most about working on the laptops? “Fixing all the problems,” he says, adding “it is like solving a puzzle.”

Looking ahead, Coe says the plan is to offer a second laptop update opportunity to 6th - 8th grade students later this summer. The hope, she adds, is that this middle school initiative will grow and become part of an annual summer tech tradition at Gibbons.