West Junior High School computer club members dedicate their lab to founder John Sheu.
At 16, Free State High School sophomore John Sheu has already compiled a resume Bill Gates would envy.
He was the founder and first computer club president at West Junior High School, designed the home page that won the Microsoft Schools on the Web design contest and the $20,000 prize that accompanied it, in 1996, and wrote a grant that earned FSHS more than $80,000 in computer equipment last year.
``I guess I was in charge when the lab started, but I think we also have to recognize the club and not just myself for the lab,'' Sheu said.
The WJHS computer club invited Sheu and former club members back to the school for a dedication ceremony Wednesday. Club members installed a plaque at the school and recognized Sheu for the effort he put into establishing the lab.
He started the club in 1995, when the school didn't have any computers for student use.
``I wanted to help facilitate the use of technology in the school,'' Sheu said. ``We didn't have the technology we needed.''
Sheu was active on his family's computer when he founded the club, but wanted to get together with like-minded individuals at school.
``I thought it would be a neat experience to get together with other people and learn more,'' he said.
Thanks to Sheu's efforts and the Microsoft contest money, there are now 18 computers and two laptops in the computer center.
``This wouldn't be here without him,'' WJHS computer club vice president John Anderson said.
The lab is completely student-run and relies on members to act as trouble shooters, teachers and programmers. They offer classes to the public every semester, with junior high students as educators.
``The skills we learn here can be further developed in high school and college,'' John said. ``We know how to program and do just about anything you need done.''
For club sponsor Karen Vespested, the satisfaction comes in watching the students.
``It's exciting to see a group of students take the lead and do what needs to be done to get a lab,'' she said.
Sheu said he was thankful to receive the award and told club members to keep learning new technology.
``You keep doing amazing things here and we'll keep doing amazing things at Free State,'' he said.
--JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.