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Without a Wire

For this Colorado public charter school, a culture of excellence means a laptop for every student.

By Jacqueline Heinze | September 2006
D'Nae Randolph works on an acrylic painting with the help of technology.
D'Nae Randolph works on an acrylic painting with the help of technology.

Colorado high school students are hoping to win the lottery-one that will allow them to attend the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST). Now in its third year, this high-tech high school, with a state-of-the-art design, serves a heavily mixed student body. Nearly half of its students are low-income. "We're a very diverse school," says Bill Kurtz, head of DSST, "but we have a single focus: to send every student to a four-year college."

To accomplish that goal, DSST became the first school in the state to provide wireless laptops to every student, thanks to a partnership with HP.

In the hallway outside her class, Chioma Nwankwo finishes her homework on her laptop.
By giving all students laptops to use at home and at school, DSST ensures that there is no digital divide among the student population. Students also use their laptops anywhere in the building, which was designed to support a wireless infrastructure. Cisco network switches and access points enable students to work wirelessly in classrooms, hallways, outdoor areas, and anywhere else that inspires learning.

The school's design also lends a sense of openness and transparency, which Kurtz says supports DSST's emphasis on community. "The facility and the technology are here to complement our school's culture of excellence," Kurtz says. According to him, creating a tight-knit community of staff and students is more important to a school's success than any of DSST's innovative features.

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