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High-tech lab puts ‘real world' projects in Calipatria's hands

July 24, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Fourteen Calipatria High School student recipients of a two-year, $250,000 state grant, gathered Monday to assemble their new computer lab.

One of only 10 schools in California to be awarded a Environmental and Spatial Technology grant sponsored by the state, Calipatria High is one of the first schools in Southern California to acquire the high-tech lab.

With 14 new computers and high-tech software, the EAST lab is "best described as a performance-based learning … with advanced technological applications," a press release states.

Originating in Arkansas, EAST began in 1996 as a collaboration between schools and businesses to integrate technology in the classroom.

"It's designed to give students skills they can market when they're looking for a job," said David Gupton, EAST lab facilitator at Calipatria High.


"I'm a facilitator, not a teacher in here," he said, adding the class is "self-taught, but with accountability."

Gupton explained students will learn computer programs such as computer-aided drafting, graphic design, web design and even animation to do "real world" projects affecting the school and the community.

"They're very sophisticated programs," said Gupton, "Most of these programs, the students have never used."

Calipatria High will offer one class this year for 14 students and plans to expand next year based on the performance of the class.

The students had to apply for the class, submitting letters of recommendation from teachers and a personal essay explaining why they would be "an asset" to the class. A committee then selected the students for the class.

No prior knowledge of computers was required for selection and students range in age, ethnicity, grade level and ability.

Said Calipatria High Principal Patsy Salcido, "Hopefully for those who don't have the high grade-point average, this will be the thing that turns them on to education."

Sophomore Suzy Zarate, 15, said, "It's going to motivate us to do a good job because we're helping our community where we live."

She added, "We're all learning at the same rate, but the students who are going to help the most are the ones who can catch on quick."

Ryan Newton, 17, a senior, said he hopes the class "gives me a step ahead of the competition" when looking for a job.

He said he has only a "basic" knowledge of computers but is interested in learning to do animation.

"I want to get experience with technology and to build my knowledge and to prepare for the world and what it holds," he said.

The challenge for him, said Ryan, will be to "absorb all the information that's going to be learned."

However, he is looking forward to the "freedom and flexibility" of the class.

Added Uziel Cortez, 16, a senior, "I feel happy and like if I got selected they believed I can do something to help, so I'm going to try to do my best."

He continued, "If we do good, then it will expand to more schools, so I hope this group does the best they can. I think they will."

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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