Hays — When teachers at Hays High School tell their students to open their books this school year, there's a chance they won't be referring to a textbook.
Students who showed up for enrollment this week at the western Kansas school -- about 1,000 of them in all -- walked away with a new Apple iBook laptop computer thanks to a school board initiative passed earlier this year.
The laptops were issued during enrollment to give students time before classes begin to familiarize themselves with the computers, Principal Mike Hester said.
Parents received a letter listing day- and nighttime iBook training classes that run through Friday.
The district made the decision to purchase laptops for the high school when the computer technology lease agreement for the district was up for renewal, Hester said. Money saved by using less paper also helped fund the new portable computers.
"Unless you're doing genetic research, there's not much need for a desktop. It's overkill, especially for what students are using them for," said Brooks Masterson, an Apple account manager from the Kansas City area.
Masterson helped teach students and parents about the use and care of the iBooks this week and amazed parents with school projects done by students on an iBook.
"This is going to make learning a lot more fun," said Barry Miller, father of an incoming freshman.
Hays High School teachers got a jump on learning about the iBooks earlier this summer when they attended a two-day seminar on using technology in the classroom.
Loren VonLintel, the school's instructional technology coordinator, is helping the teachers integrate the iBooks into teachers' curricula and said it would take time to get acquainted with the technology.
"We'll learn what works, what doesn't," VonLintel said.
Students can access their classroom agendas online and get immediate feedback after taking tests. Filters will keep students off prohibited Internet sites.
For incoming freshman Adam Arnhold, having computer access whenever he wants makes entering high school more exciting.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Arnhold said. "(High school) will be a little scary with all the older kids, but I think having our own computers will make it a lot more fun."