Author: Kalel Ketkar

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            The 2017-2018 school year will bring new freshman, new sports teams, and the beginnings of a system that will shape the classroom and make it continuously harder for poor students to keep up with the curriculum. Bring your own device (or BYOD) is the new program coming to Corona High School next year which will make every student responsible for bringing a computer or a tablet to school. While this contradicts the school’s anti-phone and anti-distraction position it has maintained for the past few years, the administration is confident that having technology and the ease that comes with it available to students will outweigh the risks involved in bringing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of machinery to a high school.

Having every student within access of internet and programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel is not without its merit. The practicality of BYOD means that families would be responsible for the technology gap in public schooling, making for classes that are more efficient and engaging. And the concept leads to the possibilities of whole new avenues of learning that would not be possible before. Technology makes tasks more engaging however mundane they are, and if staff can translate that to learning then school will become the institution that it thrives to be.

However, the sad reality is that the program is doomed to fail or at the very least hurt a lot of students learning to succeed. The immediate issue that most people are familiar with is the thefts and damages that these devices insure. It won’t be very surprising when students’ laptops are stolen or broken on campus. The office has said that they will not be taking any legal or personal responsibility for these losses. Assistant Principal Jeyan Danesh states that, “We won’t take responsibility for these devices but we encourage students to report stolen property and keep the serial code on the back of the machine so we can identify lost or stolen devices.”

But the most serious issue that will arise is the aspect of the monetary strain it will put on the families of Corona High School, especially the ones will multiple students here. To expect every family to pay hundreds of dollars for a device is unrealistic and creates a gap between those who can and can’t afford high end devices leaving poorer students forced to use the increasingly substandard laptops provided by the school. This also brings up the question of bringing the aspect of paying for better learning. Although this is a common thing in society with the existence of private and charter schools it has primarily stayed vacant from public schooling.

The BYOD program opens up a pathway for wealthier students to spend more money on fancier software and machines and increase the wealth gap in schooling.  The purpose of public schooling is to create an equal learning environment for all children. But if only wealthy families have access to better technology than that creates an unfair advantage and directly goes against the point of public schooling.  “…this is a common issue with no real solution but is outweighed by the benefits of the program,” said Mr. Danesh. With no concrete answers to these pressing issues we have to ask if the school is prepared to handle a shift to technology of this scale. 

Finally, the Assistant Principal goes on to say, “…We and District are still in the planning phase of the program, and that there is a lot of careful planning going into it.” Most information is not set in stone but it will most likely start with just 9th grade and then expand to more grades. So prepare for the new program as well as the benefits and challenges that come with it.

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On campus, one program is training a multitude of students to make this money in well-paying careers such as doctors and engineers, both of which have impressive salaries averaging out to the startling sum of $150,000. Fortunately, this ludicrous amount of money is within grasp of almost every student here at Corona High School. The Stem program is starting its second year at our school and is looking for students with a passion for medicine or engineering.

` With Stem comes a new level of freedom for students, which in today’s world is hard to come by. Many classes have turned to technology for classwork, and students can be found working on computers every day. And with the self-guided concept that is well built into stem, less and less student-teacher interaction occurs with every passing year. Now at first glance this may come as a wonderful concept, but as Kenny Tran says, “with less lecturing comes a whole new level of difficulty.” This is due to students not being able to rely on their teacher.. “Most of the time we have to work together, than just being able to ask the teacher,” argues Daniel Alvarez, a frustrated student. But even with the many flaws in this new process of teaching, many participants are still content and even entertained, “It is a lot of fun not being told what to do all the time.”

In addition to science and engineering the program is based on fundamental such as having more hands-on schoolwork and going at your own pace. Hands-on schoolwork is immediately evident to every student enrolled. With only a month of school having passed, students have been involved in numerous experiments and projects. Ranging from identifying cocaine from aspirin and splattering blood. And moving at your own pace is determined by the individual by either succeeding with hard work or by being lax and falling through the cracks.

This exciting new program is guaranteed to be tough and bring on a wave of new experiences for those involved. Stem is an opportunity for students to be exposed to jobs,  learn advanced concepts, and overall get ahead in life.“It is a place for those who really want to challenge themselves and try new things,” states one enthusiastic STEM student. “…labs and experiments you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” says Mrs. Holtz. To join talk to your counselor about enrolling in the Stem program.