Onaway alumni group spearheads computer purchases

Pictured are Peg Herring, OASAA President; Susan Nelson,OASAA Treasurer; Barry Fitzpatrick, OHS Technology Director; Marty Mix, OHS Principal
Pictured are Peg Herring, OASAA President; Susan Nelson,OASAA Treasurer; Barry Fitzpatrick, OHS Technology Director; Marty Mix, OHS Principal

The Onaway Area Schools Alumni Association (OASSA) recently spearheaded the 1:1 Project, a drive to purchase a tablet computer for the personal use of each senior in the graduating class of 2017. Proposed by Susan Nelson at the August meeting, the project immediately appealed to the OASAA board, whose mission is “to celebrate and support Onaway Schools.” A request went out for donations, and within six weeks the board, OASAA members, and others who attended Onaway Schools raised the money to fully fund the project.

Computers are essential in education today, but while some schools can afford to provide each student with one, smaller schools often don’t have the resources to do so. Seniors at Onaway need computers for their frequent writing assignments, general homework and preparation for Senior Exhibition, a presentation each student must make before graduation. The 1:1 Project computers, loaned to each senior for the school year, will provide a way to complete these assignments whether or not a family can afford a home computer or an Internet connection.

According to Peg Herring, OASAA board president, the school has safeguards in place that assure the computers are not used improperly or infected with malware. With jump drives that store their work, students can do homework on their tablets and “hand it in” electronically. The computers will be insured, charging docks are available and programs are in place to prevent security problems and improper use. At the end of the year, the tablets will be returned to the school and prepared for next year’s class.

When the call went out by mail, the Onaway alumni Web site, and the group’s Facebook page, the response was immediate. Recognizing the strong basic education provided by Onaway Community Schools, former students, both from the area and those who live far away, eagerly supported the 1:1 Project. Some donated simply because they liked the idea of helping current students. Some donated in memory of a loved one or to honor a favorite teacher. Local businesses saw the drive as a chance to support the community that supports them. Some classes from the past joined together to buy computers for kids who are a lot like they were “back in the day.” One former OHS grad bought a computer herself (at $180) then went on Facebook and challenged others in her class to do the same.

As a result of this strong response, a check for $10,000 was presented to Onaway High School principal Marty Mix Nov. 30. The 1:1 Project will continue to take donations to add to the number of computers, so former students can give a gift that keeps giving to the seniors of today from the students of the past.