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Placerita, Golden Oak pool resources for computer lab

Posted: July 7, 2009 6:59 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2009 4:34 p.m.
 
Two schools within the William S. Hart Union High School District will soon reap the benefits of combining their resources to make the most of available funding and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Placerita Junior High School is completing a modernization project budgeted at $9.2 million which covers modernization of existing classrooms, furniture and equipment, but no additional money for computers.

Golden Oak Adult School received funding for additional computers and software but lacked space to utilize them in their cramped facilities on the Placerita campus.

Principals Lynda Rick and Mike Kuhlman put their heads together as the Placerita modernization went into design phase and came up with an ideal solution. A regular sized classroom at Placerita was expanded into an adjacent storage area to create a plus-size classroom, and Golden Oak's computers were installed to create a state-of-the-art computerized classroom.

Unlike existing computer laboratories at Placerita that are available for teachers and their classes to move in and out of as required, the new computer center is a dedicated classroom that takes advantage of the updated technology all day long. Teachers utilize the computers for math classes and computer application classes that are part of Placerita's elective wheel.

In addition to the rows of new computers, the classroom is equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector with microphone, which allows the instructor to deliver lessons to the class while everything on the teacher's computer screen is projected onto the wall for students to follow.

The classroom is located at the front of the Placerita campus, where it is most convenient for both Placerita and Golden Oak classes to take advantage of the facility.

Golden Oak's Lynda Rick noted that both the proximity and the quality of the classroom are a big plus to her classes. The dedicated classroom allows adult students to pursue independent study at various skill levels while freeing up the existing computer labs for GED high school eqivalency and California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) prep programs.

Having a dedicated classroom equipped with computers also makes a difference to junior high students during the day, who have access to the technology on a daily basis instead of the rotating schedule allowed by the shared computer labs.

"Thanks to the new classroom set-up, we are finding ways to move kids from beyond where they already are," Placerita's Kuhlman said. On a recent school day, students were creating PowerPoint presentations and working on basic Web site design.

At night, the classroom becomes a teaching tool for English language acquisition classes offered by Golden Oak Adult School. The specialized software purchased with the equipment allows students to progress at their own speed and also helps adults learn such skills as searching the Internet and practicing computer applications that will help them find jobs.

Smaller existing computers labs in the Golden Oak buildings are now devoted to helping students pass the GED and CAHSEE tests.

Golden Oak has supplemental funding through a Workforce Investment Act grant that also allowed the adult school to replace some of the older computers it is using in existing computer labs at both Placerita and Sierra Vista junior high schools as well.

The new Placerita classroom opened for student use in time for the spring semester and will be in full operation for both daytime junior high students and adult evening students in time for the coming fall semester.

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