EPA gives 70 used personal computers to area schools

September 09, 1998|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

In a welcome event for Baltimore-area schools, the Environmental Protection Agency donated 70 used computers to the school system yesterday to enable inner-city students to stay competitive with their peers around the nation.

"I always say, without computer knowledge you are like a blind person at an intersection in downtown Baltimore waiting for someone to lead you across," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who helped persuade the EPA to give the personal computers to the city schools, during a news conference yesterday at the Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School on East 21st Street in Baltimore.

The event was one of hundreds around the nation to celebrate National School Modernization Day, an effort to provide students access to technology.

The EPA began donating computers to schools in 1997, EPA spokeswoman Ruth Podems said. The 70 computers donated yesterday were the first given to schools in Maryland.

More than 600 computers have been given to schools in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington.

Nicholas Elementary -- which has 310 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade -- will receive 10 of the 70 computers. The others will go to Douglass and Dunbar high schools, and to Coldstream Park, Dickey Hill, Hampden, Harford Heights, Lakewood, Montebello, Rognel Heights and Yorkwood elementaries in the city, and to Catonsville and Randallstown elementaries in Baltimore County.

Robert Booker, city schools superintendent, said he was grateful for the new computers, but reminded everyone that Baltimore schools need millions of dollars in improvements.

Irma E. Johnson, the principal at Nicholas, said the school has 29 computers, but they are too outdated to access the Internet.

Students heard speeches by Booker; Cummings; W. Michael McCabe, EPA regional administrator; Aida Alvarez, administrator of the Small Business Administration; and W. Wilson Goode, deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Education. They watched part of a speech by President Clinton on television, delivered live by satellite, but left school before the speech ended.

"I thought it was a great experience for the children, seeing such history take place," said math teacher Cynthia Kess-Wilson.

Students were eager to start working -- and playing -- with the new machines, which were delivered to the school yesterday.

Kendra Harrington, 8, a third-grader, had three questions about the computers: "Are they fun?" "Are there going to be games?" and "Are we going to be able to take them home?"

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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