NEWTON, NJ—This year at Newton High School, freshman orientation was run a bit differently than years’ past. The most significant difference was that it was held at night, on Wednesday, August 24 from 7 until 9 p.m. at the school.
Approximately 200 students of the Class of 2020 and their parents, gathered in the Newton High School Auditorium. They were given a number one to 16, which coincided with a group of three or four of the 70 Peer Leaders who had volunteered to show the freshman around the school.
The night kicked off with Principal Jeff Waldron welcoming the parents and explaining a little bit about what to expect for the night. Next Athletic Director and Assistant Vice Principal Ryan Hashway explaining to the students and parents about the sports and clubs offered at Newton High School.
Patrice Reilly and Annmarie Shafer from the Center of Prevention and Counseling in Newton gave a brief talk about underage drinking as well as a “Waking up to Marijuana” presentation.
Mary Decker, Director of Information Services, spoke about the main topic of the night- Chromebooks. Teachers were given one year of training before the school implemented the use of the computers full-time. The use of the computers within the classrooms is still at the discretion of the individual teacher.
“We are not replacing textbooks by any means, we acknowledge the value of the textbooks, but we also acknowledge the value of technology. We sort of have one foot in each door.” explained Waldron. “We began a one-to-one initiative last year and we are expanding on that this year by giving each freshman a Chromebook,” he said.
Each freshman will be given a Chromebook for the school year, to be able to use in the classroom as well as at home. There are guidelines in place that each student must follow in order to keep their Chromebook throughout the school year.
A program called “Go Guardian installed on each Chromebook,” explained Decker, “and what this does is gives us a way to monitor what you’re viewing. We can see your browsing history and if you are not using the Chromebook with TRS, Trust, Respect, and Support, then it will be taken away from you.”
In an interview with Tap into Newton, Waldron explained that it is the school’s goal that within four years, every student will have their own computer. “This year every freshman has their own machine, meaning it is only sophomores, juniors and seniors sharing those on the cart,” said Waldron. “Next year, the freshman will keep their computers and the new incoming class will get theirs, making it so that half the school is using them.”
Once the students broke out into their tour groups, parents were led to the cafeteria for refreshments and to pick up their children’s Chromebooks.
“I am a bit concerned that sometimes my child can’t even remember where he put his clothes or his backpack, and now he is going to get a computer? What are the chances that he is going to misplace it and then forget where he put it,” said a concerned parent, who wished to not to be named.
“The administration is putting a lot of faith in the freshman class to be the pilot program for this,” said another parent, who also wanted to remain anonymous and was also concerned about security and whether or not another student could use someone else’s’ computer to “surf the web” getting them in trouble instead of their own.
All updates will be done through the school and every summer the students are expected to turn the computers in the week before school starts for maintenance. This program is a pilot program and throughout the year the administration will be on the lookout to make the program run as smoothly as possible.