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School invests in upgrading its computers


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000

BROOKSVILLE -- Parents who send their children to Christian schools typically think they have to sacrifice modern technology for a faith-based education, but that is no longer true for parents of Hernando Christian Academy students, the school's administrator said.

When students return to school next month, they will be greeted by a freshly painted computer lab, 21 new computers, eight color printers, a digital camera and a scanner, said David Holtzhouse, administrator of the Brooksville school.

The old computers "were dinosaurs," he said. "None of them had CD-ROM capabilities. None of them had the memory capabilities needed to play educational software."

All of the school's new computers have those capabilities, plus video and sound cards. A software package with Microsoft's Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher programs also has been installed into each machine, Holtzhouse said.

"I think (the computers make) our technology competitive to anything in the private sector," Holtzhouse said.

Some of the computers also have Internet access, which will be policed by a teacher in the computer lab. The Internet-ready machines also have been equipped with filtering software from the non-profit Christian organization Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., he said.

Other Christian schools in the county are also technologically competitive. Notre Dame Interparochial School has a computer lab with 32 machines, six computers in the library for research and either IBM-compatible or Apple computers in every classroom, the oldest of which was bought two years ago, principal Maureen Wickert said. Spring Hill Christian Academy principal Bill Crawford said the school has a lab with 20 new computers, printers and a scanner, as well as a computer in each classroom. Administrators at West Hernando Christian School could not be reached for comment.

HCA's computer lab upgrade, totaling $24,000, was funded entirely through private donors, people who Holtzhouse said wanted the school to fulfill its vision of a school equipped with modern technology.

The donations are "typical, though, of the kind of support we have from our families," Holtzhouse said. "Tuition can only cover so much in the budget."

The school's entire budget is funded through tuition and private donations. The computer lab project was outside of the budget and required additional fundraising, he said. The trend of individual contributions is something the HCA's administration wants to see continue, because the school has a number of projects in the works and looks at fundraising efforts as teamwork between the school and community to improve the quality of education, Holtzhouse said.

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