Bridging the Tech Gap: Students at Elementary School in Fairfax County Get Free Laptops | NBC4 Washington

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Bridging the Tech Gap: Students at Elementary School in Fairfax County Get Free Laptops

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    Fourth through sixth graders at Bucknell Elementary School participated in a program working to close the digital divide by providing free laptops to students. (Published Friday, Oct. 23, 2015)

    Students at a Fairfax County elementary school are getting a big step up in technology.

    On Friday, fourth through sixth graders at Bucknell Elementary School showed some wide smiles as they received their own laptops -- for free.

    The laptops were distributed as the result of a partnership intended to bridge the digital divide at a school where more than 70 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

    The high-tech gift should be a big help. Some students at the school, located in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, said they didn't have computers at home.

    "If I'm having trouble doing my homework, I'm going to go to this website and see if it can help me," said student Erik Hernandez.

    Student Iris Ramirez said, "I'm really excited. We can research and do a lot of stuff on our computers."

    The laptops were donated after a local citizen became concerned about the technology gap many low-income kids are facing. That donor contributed half the money needed and sought a match, which came from Christian Relief Services.

    The students are also eligible for free Internet access at home from Cox Communications.

    Virginia Del. Scott Surovell said children in the county are given electronic textbooks, but no way to use them if their families don't have the resources.

    "I didn't think it was really fair, that the system would require children to use electronic textbooks that they couldn't access at home unless they could afford to own a computer," Surovell said.

    Principal Tim Slayter said computers are critical to success at school and beyond.

    "I think we've just improved their chances of getting great jobs, getting into college, [getting] high-skilled work when they get out of high school or college, so that's what we do," Slayter said.

    The students won't be able to keep the laptops for good. They'll have to turn them in when the school year ends, but they'll get them back when school begins again in the fall.