Instead of students carrying around an armful of books at Central Middle School in Whiteville, they can do all their studies in one place, on their Apple laptop computer. Columbus County is, for the most part, pretty rural. Central Middle Principal Fred Hill said, "One of the disadvantages that are students have is that we are part of a rural area and once they go out into looking at the different colleges, is they're going to have to compete with those in urban, bigger schools with bigger funding, more funding. And with that, I felt like if we bring this school into the 21st century concept, that will allow our students to be competitive with those of the urban area also." With the help of the federal government, every sixth grader now has their own laptop. Mr. Hill explained, “Part of our mission statement is to make sure our students can compete globally. Not just locally, but globally, and again with the access to the internet and research sites through the internet, our students can compete globally, and we're prepared enough for that." They lease the computer for the entire school year for $75. Central sixth grader Spencer Roberson said, “We have most of our text books on here, so instead of having to take a whole bunch of text books home, we can just take our laptop home." When summer rolls around, they will return the computer to the school to be refurbished and updated. In August, the kids will get them back, and the new sixth grade class will get new laptops. Within three years, Principal Fred Hill hopes all middle school students will have a computer. He said they started with the six graders so they'd be well prepared for high school. The seventh and eighth graders are a bit jealous, but they'll have their shot soon. Whiteville High hopes to have laptops for its students in the near future.
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