Future of schools begins in Philly

By Kaitlin Barr
October 6, 2006

Remember the feeling in high-school of walking down the halls with what felt like one hundred pounds of books in your school-bag? For the kids enrolled at the brand new “School of the Future,” the weight of books on their shoulders is the furthest thing from their minds considering there are no books at this school. That’s right, no books are necessary for this brand new West Philadelphia School.

The “School of the Future” opened its doors to students on Sept. 7th, hoping the new technology would be embraced and welcomed throughout the community. The idea for the school was actually thought of by Microsoft, in the high hopes of aiming students in the right direction in school. The company wanted to incorporate enough new ideas and technology into this school, hoping that in the future, all new high schools will be built this way.

High school to me was remembering my locker combination, getting lost going to classes, taking pages upon pages of notes, fighting for a spot in the computer lab and searching through thousands of books in the library, trying to find that one that had the information I needed. At the “School of the Future,” they don’t have anything that our generation was used to. Things such as smart-card accessible lockers, a PC tablet for every student, virtual teaching assistants and no library are just the beginning of what this school is offering to its students.

Call me old-fashioned, but I liked high school just the way it was. I liked learning about the library and having the option of sitting there to study. I enjoyed taking notes by hand and high-lighting in my textbooks. In my opinion, I think the “School of the Future” is taking away from everything we ever knew about school and coming around way too early.

Although I feel like the world isn’t ready for high schools such as these, I do think that Microsoft is doing an amazing thing for the children in West Philadelphia. 99 percent of the students enrolled in the “School of the Future” are of minorities and 85 percent come from low-income families.

The school is open not to just the students, but to the community as well. It is available for them to host education activities there as well as community meetings. The wireless internet also runs a few miles in each direction from the school, which allows anyone in close proximity to access the internet.

It was not easy for these kids to just enroll in the school however. They had to enter a lottery last year with thousands of kids who wanted to be a part of this new idea. For those who were chosen, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

The kids that are attending this new school are also receiving something that they may never have in their lives. Hopefully with opening this school, Microsoft is incorporating the thought of college into these children’s lives which is desperately needed in places like West Philadelphia.

I may not be ready for all of this new technology to enter into high-schools, but I’m sure that when I’m old enough to have kids and send them into high school, I’ll be glad that there are high schools such as these to teach them all about the world of technology.

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Kaitlin Barr

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