By Carissa Wolf
Pilot staff writer
Local grocers helped bring Brookings-Harbor High School into the 21st century.
Family owned C&K Market, Inc., operator of Ray's Food Place and Shop Smart Food Warehouse updated the high school's antiquated computer lab with a $10,000 technology donation to the school Friday.
"This is one of their needs that rose to the top," said Doug Nidiffer, C&K Market president and CEO.
Local Ray's employees unloaded boxes of brand new Dell computers before wide-eyed students Friday morning. The gift enables the school to offer up-to-date computer and technology courses and spares administrators from the fear of computers crashing while students take state standards tests electronically.
"I'm jazzed. It's like it's my birthday," said business and computer teacher Linda Brown, who welcomed the stacks of brown Dell boxes into her computer classroom. The donation has the teacher looking forward to spending the weekend setting up the new systems.
"We're trying to give (students) some real marketable skills and we have to do it with industry standards," Brown said, noting that many of the school's computers operated with different levels and grades of technology, depending on the age of the computer. The gift of 15 new Dell computer systems also included high-tech flat screen monitors.
"So that's half my lab," Brown said. "This is about five years worth of new computers for me. Now I can look at putting my funding into software."
Many of the outdated systems used in technology courses sported refurbished hard-drives and miss-matched monitors, which made operating software difficult. Some of the computers were as much as 12 years-old. And sometimes the old monitors could not compute the programs running on the rebuilt hardware.
"With the school budget always going downhill and new funding being so restricted any new equipment is just a dream," Brown said.
District budget shortfalls and the school computer lab's lack of up-to-date systems led the board of Ray's Charitable Foundation to unanimously approve giving Brookings-Harbor High School the much-needed equipment.
Many C&K Market employees are either alumni of the Brookings-Harbor School District or have children attending one of the district's three schools, Doug Nidiffer said.
"Since we are a local company, we feel that it is very important to support and help our community in any way possible, and of course the schools and students take highest priority," said Nancy Nidiffer, Ray's foundation board chairperson. "We felt that by donating new computers, we would be impacting the well-being of the students most directly."
The computers were accepted by Jim Baggett, the district's technology coordinator, who said that the gift will help the school align with the technology used at the state level. He said that the state was constantly updating the technology used to administer tests electronically which required newer computers at the schools in order to access the exams. And Brookings-Harbor couldn't keep up with those changes. Baggett said that he constantly worried that the state tests would crash the district's computers.
"They couldn't guarantee that any given day they would work," Baggett said. "At anytime we could have been chopped off at the knees."
"In a time of school budget crunches it was just a Godsend for Ray's to send these," Baggett said.
Brown said that the new computers will enable her to teach students game programming, Web design and business applications using technology that will enable students to remain competitive.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you Ray's Market," Brown said.