WELCH, W.Va. — High tech gifts are being delivered to students in McDowell County.
As part of Reconnecting McDowell, every middle school student in the county is getting their very own laptop computer. The project was funded by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission through Connect to Compete.
The first 420 laptops were handed out on Monday evening at Mount View Middle School in Welch.
Bob Brown, the coordinator of Reconnecting McDowell, said the room was filled with energy. “We assumed the students would come with a parent, but the excitement was such that entire families showed up,” according to Brown.
More than 1,000 people were on hand for the event.
Brown said he got to talk with some of the middle schoolers and they were anxious to get working on their laptops. “A young man told me now he is able to take a Spanish course online that he wasn’t able to pick up at the school,” explained Brown.
Tuesday, the computers were delivered to students at Sandy River Middle School in Avondale and students at South Side Middle School in War will receive their laptops on Wednesday. In total, 872 computers now belong to McDowell County students.
Brown stressed it’s important to get those laptops into the hands of sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
“The best time to impact students career and college choices is at the middle school level,” he explained. “That’s why we initially decided to roll the computers out at the middle school level.”
The three middle schools have plenty of computers in their labs. The laptops are for use after hours.
“They belong, not to the school system, they actually belong to the middle school students to be used at home to compile their homework, to do research,” said Brown. “There’s also our hope that the parents or grandparents will utilize the laptops.”
If the money comes available, those with Reconnecting McDowell hope to supply laptops to high school and elementary school students in the next few years.