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High school to hand out 'netbooks' to freshmen next week

Posted by L. Kim Tan  August 17, 2011 10:05 AM

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There don’t seem to be too many downsides to a “one-to-one” netbook initiative that Dedham High School is rolling out in September to its incoming freshman class, according to school officials.

Each child in the Class of 2015 will receive a computer to use at school and home to level the playing field on access to information and prepare them for college and beyond.

School technology director Don Langenhorst pitched the Capital Expenditures Committee last year with an idea in which every ninth-grade student would get a netbook. Yes, it’s a one-year pilot program, he said at the time. But the expectation is that students would use their computers through high school to enhance their studies.

Each netbook, valued at between $400 and $500, will be bolstered by an about $100 technology fee paid by parents, officials said. Children who qualify by federal standards for a free lunch would not have to pay. Others who have a reduced lunch fee would pay for just some of the total cost.

Communities including Plymouth are currently conducting similar programs.

Langenhorst recently sent a letter to parents outlining the proposal as the start of the school year draws closer.

“As most of you know, we spent this past year working with you, teachers, and the Dedham community to explore a one netbook per child initiative with the Class of 2015,’’ he wrote. “I’m excited to report that through your support, and the support of teachers, administrators, and the community in general, we will be piloting this initiative with your son or daughter.”

Langenhorst said the district has opted for the HP 100e, which will be equipped with extra memory and a full Windows 7 professional operating system.

“This also means that while using the netbook, students’ access to the Internet will be filtered and monitored by the Dedham Public Schools,’’ he said. “And while the machine remains property of the Dedham Public Schools ... it will be in your son or daughter’s possession at all times.”

The school district will provide maintenance and virus protection.

Langenhorst is asking parents to write a check, get a money order, or pay the $100 fee online on the high school’s website at Checks or money orders should be written to Dedham High School.

Laptops will be issued at a special technology training session next week on Aug. 24 or 25.

The schedule is as follows: Netbook Training and Distribution, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday for children whose last names begin with A-E and F-K, respectively. Those who begin with L-O, and P-Z will meet on Thursday, at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.

A “last chance” session for anyone who has missed is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 1 p.m., Langenhorst said.

He urged parents to offer direct feedback to or by calling the high school at 781-326-4773.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at

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