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New laptops, music and more at Frontier

  • Frontier Regional School Director of Technology Scott Paul with new Chromebooks that soon will be given to students to use during the school year, Aug. 25, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Chromebooks at Frontier Regional School that soon will be given to students to use during the school year, Aug. 25, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Chromebooks at Frontier Regional School that soon will be given to students to use during the school year, Aug. 25, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Chromebooks will be given to Frontier Regional School students to use during the new school year, Aug. 25, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—



For the Bulletin
Thursday, August 31, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Every Frontier Regional School student had a take-home Google Chromebook laptop when school started on Wednesday.

“We’re close to 700 devices. It’s connecting students to the world and all the learning resources on the internet,” said Director of Technology Scott Paul Friday. In front of him in a library storage closet were black Chromebooks, each worth about $200 including software, stacked high on shelves.

Frontier Regional School, which already uses Google programs such as Drive and Docs for homework assignments, has 640 middle and high school students this year.

“We had about half of them already,” said Principal Darius Modestow. The school “invested about $20,000 for the rest.”

Each laptop requires an internet connection to work. That allows teachers to remotely control student computers when both are signed into GoGuardian, a software service for educators. It also prohibits students from browsing other sites while in a learning environment. When students aren’t signed into GoGuardian, teachers can’t observe their screens.

“As all the students log on, (teachers) can see what’s going on in their screens. They have the ability to manage the devices,” Paul said. That’s particularly useful for test taking, he noted.

Outside of class, high school students can take the Chromebooks home and use them as they wish — with internet filters. Middle schoolers can only use them at school through a similar initiative that started last year.

Modestow, who pushed for the computers, said they’re a way to give all students equal access to education.

“It will create a greater equity for those who don’t have computers at home,” Modestow said.

He acknowledges that some students don’t have internet access at home.

“There is a drawback that if you don’t have internet at your house they won’t work,” Modestow said. “They’re going to have to use community hotspots.”

Band camp

Frontier Regional’s band just completed a weeklong camp program, “pre-season training” anticipating the start of a new year, according to Band Director Max Sherrill.

“When it comes to marching, there is a lot of specialized techniques not covered in class,” Sherrill said. This is the second year the camp has been held.

“It’s an effort on my part to build a seriousness, a sense of pride about being in the marching band. For a lot of students that’s their pride in school,” he said.

About 25 students attended band camp, practicing marching movements outside and then music inside. New songs that’ll be performed at football games this year are “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung; “Hand Clap” by Fitz and the Tantrums; “Already Gone” by The Eagles; and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.

Leadership training

Also preparing for the new year, sports team captains attended a day of leadership training last week put on by Tekoa Mountain Outdoors. Athletes climbed rocks and learned teamwork skills at Chapel Falls in Ashfield.

Then on Friday, 25 Red Hawk football players volunteered at the elementary school, cleaning up around the building.

“We’re getting ready, improving every day in practice. I think it’s going to be a great year,” said team captain Stephen Worthley, who attended the leadership training.

Other initiatives

A new AP course offered this year covers human geography. That’s one of a few new programs this year in addition to the Chromebooks.

On the heels of last year’s successful musical “Guys and Dolls,” Sherrill and the music department will put on a second musical in March that’s yet to be announced.

And Greenfield Community College has teamed up with the school to try out a business class at the North Main Street building while teachers are in training classes.