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Published: Thursday, 7/8/2004

Anthony Wayne: Savvy students doctor computers during summer

Ethan Wilke, 19, seated from left, and Rob Bathurst work on school computers under the supervision of Don Hertzfeld. Ethan Wilke, 19, seated from left, and Rob Bathurst work on school computers under the supervision of Don Hertzfeld.

Some computer-savvy Anthony Wayne High School students is giving up tanning for technology this summer as they perform maintenance and repairs on the district's 2,000 computers.

The 16 students in the district's summer computer maintenance program work 24 hours each week updating software, setting up computers in new classrooms, and repairing equipment.

"It sure beats flipping burgers," said Tod Tapolo, director of instructional technology for Anthony Wayne schools. "The students do an excellent job. These kids have grown up with technology, so this is no big deal for them."

Mr. Tapolo, who was one of 11 people named "educational leaders" at the National Educational Computing Conference in June, started hiring students about six years ago to do computer work over the summer.

The students receive $6.40 to $7.80 hourly for their work. Hiring professionals from outside the district would likely cost $50 an hour, Mr. Tapolo said.

"Paying the students is much more cost-effective," he said. "And during the school year, I can use the students as my first line of defense for troubleshooting."

The district started offering a semester-long class last school year to teach students about fixing computer glitches. As part of the class, students spent time before and after school or during study halls repairing troublesome machines.

Jennifer Pratt, who will be a senior in the fall, was assigned to the math department when she took the class.

"If the math department had a problem, they told me, and I went and fixed it during my study hall," she said. "In the class, I learned to figure out problems, so I don't have to ask for help and bug people so much."

Ms. Pratt, 18, is now participating for the second year in the summer maintenance program. She is saving her wages so she can buy a computer when she begins college.

Most of the students took

classes on computers at the high school, such as Web design or video journalism. To participate in the summer maintenance program, all received extra training from the district's technical staff. Adult staff members supervise them throughout the summer.

The school also employs recent graduates. Ethan Wilke graduated in the spring and plans to attend the University of Toledo to study computer science. He works with the summer maintenance program for his third year.

"We call him a repeat offender," Mr. Tapolo joked. Mr. Wilke replied, "Keep paying me, and I'll keep coming back."

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