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September 5, 2013

CCS gets new signatures and Chromebooks

By Michelle Miller The Cooperstown Crier
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Cooperstown Central School administrators, teachers and staff kicked off the school year a little sooner than the students by attending superintendent conference days, which were held Tuesday and Wednesday.

The first day began with a gathering in the middle/high school auditorium before teachers and staff participated in professional development activities.The assembly served as a welcome back for returning employees, an introduction of new hires and a look forward to what is to come during the 2013-14 school year.

Superintendent C.J. Hebert made a couple announcements: The first pertaining to technology in the classroom and the second was a presentation of signatures that will help the district market itself better.

Hebert said a local foundation, which requested to remain anonymous, has taken a particular interest in CCS students and their access to 21st century learning modalities.

“All students in grades nine and 10 will be equipped with Google Chromebooks as a result of this generous sponsorship,” he said. “All teachers in the secondary building will also be provided with the Chromebooks to make sure we are all competent with the technology as the implementation progresses.”

According to Hebert, all high school students will eventually have access to Chromebooks.

Michelle Hitchcock, media specialist, said the district has been using Google apps for a couple of years so the familiarity of them continues to grow. She said the apps will allow teachers and staff to create calendars that can be shared district wide, teaching plans, class websites and much more. Students will also be able to use the technology to share projects with their teachers, create portfolios and participate in classroom forums, she added.

“We will have the capacity to share documents. For example, the library passwords, I’m going to put them all on Google Docs. Any person with access to Google Docs (through a student or staff email) will have access to my passwords wherever they are,” Hitchcock explained.

The Chromebooks require wireless Internet access, which is being expanded at both the elementary and secondary buildings. The district currently has wireless Internet, but it is spotty at best, according to CCS network systems coordinator Mark LaValley. He said the plan is to have total wireless access at the middle/high school by the end of the month and then begin work at the elementary school.

Chalya Pudlewski, high school English teacher, said because the Chromebooks are web-based, students will not be able to download, so the risk of viruses is pretty much eliminated.

“They are very, very affordable; $250 per unit,” she said. “Everything is Google web-based so you have to log into your Google account. Everything is in your history. This is the school’s, not your personal device, so you will need to separate personal from school.”

To start, Hitchcock said the Chromebooks will be used in the freshman seminar and English classes at the ninth-grade level and in the global studies and English classes at the 10th-grade level. She said five to 10 devices will be kept in the library.

“We are not going to turn it over and say OK its yours, do it,” Hitchcock said. “There will be training throughout the year for every staff member.”

Last year Cooperstown changed its nickname from Redskins to CCS Hawkeyes. Hebert said once a moniker was selected the school took the opportunity to look into ways of branding and marketing itself. The school did not change its colors or emblem based on “The Indian Hunter,” but did collaborate with a designer to create new marketing materials. A district logo and associated signatures were adopted at the Aug. 21 board of education meeting.

“I learned quite a bit throughout the process,” Hebert said. “For example, adding the full text of Cooperstown Central School Hawkeyes is sometimes necessary if it is going with something that is not specifically for those who are familiar with Cooperstown. And CCS Hawkeyes may be fine for use in Cooperstown.”

The designs will be made available on the district’s website, cooperstowncs.org.