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Archive for Friday, August 14, 1998

HUMANITIES GRANT BOOSTS COMPUTER LEARNING AT WEST

August 14, 1998

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West Junior High receives a $30,000 technology grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

West Junior High students may soon get to take a trip around the world.

Best of all, they won't have to leave home to do it.

The school, which has been named the recipient of a $30,356 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), may one day offer students the opportunity to travel to other countries or back in time via CD-ROM, Web sites and digitized museum visits available on computers.

``We wanted to look at existing technology and see how that fits in with our technology,'' West librarian and grant writer Karen Vespestad said. ``We're really interested in integrating technology into curriculum.''

Vespestad said the increased use of technology and computers will enhance students' learning potential.

Once the technology is up and running, students at the school will have access to Watkins Community Museum of History archives and exhibits, via computer.

They can also learn the truth about Kansas history, Watkins director Steve Jansen said.

``Most of the students at West Junior High were born in Kansas,'' Jansen said. ``The vast majority of the teachers there, and the students' parents, were born elsewhere. There is still this perception of Kansas that it's flat, it's the Wizard of Oz and the ``In Cold Blood'' murders. The first one is a lie, the second a fairy tale and the third a nightmare. Students still have a flawed understanding of the place and themselves.''

Through the museum linkup Jansen hopes students will take advantage of the resources and learn more about history, art, maps, theater and culture of the local area from the early 19th century to the present.

``We want to tease them with things we've got,'' he said.

The grant this year is for research and development for the new computer programs. Once the WJHS staff and teachers have proven they have fulfilled their research obligations they are eligible for a grant of $200,000 to $400,000 to get the program going.

The NEH distributed a total of $622,000 in ``Schools for a New Millennium'' grants. West Junior High was the only Kansas school named as a grant recipient.

Schools were chosen based on new ideas for integrating technology reform in the classroom, NEH Chairman William Ferris said.

-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is jwatson@ljworld.com.

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