Catholic Division partnership with ComKids delivers laptops to Grade 7 students

A partnership between the Prince Albert Catholic School Division and an Ontario philanthropic group is still going strong.

On Friday, the division announced that each Grade 7 student will receive a laptop courtesy of ComKids. The division, in partnership with ComKids, is offering computer literacy and online safety course for all Grade 7 students this year.

“We are very happy about this,” education director Lorel Trumier said. “Those kids get to keep those laptops and I think it's a perfect time. They will be heading into high school this next couple of years and they will have some good opportunities to be able to learn how to use that in a way that it will support their academics as well.”

Students from St. John Community School, St. Michael Community School, St. Francis School, École Holy Cross and École St Anne School participated in lessons, activities, and videos by the ComKids program created in partnership with the Toronto Police Service.

“What we definitely want to do is let the families and the community know that we are offering a really good program for students who are in our Grade 7 classes,” Trumier said. “They are able to keep their laptops and they are able to participate in this program around safety. We are happy that is continuing.”

In 2022, ComKids reached out to the division after seeing a news article about PA Catholic’s goal of providing technology to every family who needed it during the pandemic. ComKids has already committed to continuing the program in 2024.

The first sets of laptops have been delivered to St. Anne and St. Francis as of Friday and the others are expected in the coming days.

Almost 250 laptops were provided to the student participants in the division this week and coming days. Students are able to own the laptop upon completing the program.

The program's core principles are to develop digital literacy skills and learn to use technology safely and effectively. The masterclasses have connections to the Grade 7 curriculum within Health Education, English Language Arts, Career Education and Social Studies.

Topics included Online safety and maintaining digital footprints, computer literacy, becoming engaged and educated citizens in a digital world, Computer tools and how to use them and becoming a responsible person online.

“In today's society, I think it's very important that we educate children on the different aspects that the program is offering such as online safety, maintaining a footprint, understanding their digital citizenship in the world around them,” Trumier explained.

“I think it's very important that they have those opportunities. They get to do this with classroom teachers, who are people they can trust and learn from here as we go through it. I think many people would probably benefit from the same kind of opportunity to learn. We are excited to have them in the program again.”

Throughout the masterclasses, students were provided with opportunities to learn technical skills and instruction while maintaining a digital footprint.

The Board of Education thanked Gwen Clyke Consultant and IT Manager Sean Kenny for their dedication to overseeing the program.

The Board also thanked ComKids for their support, 250 laptops, and resources for this initiative. The School Division is excited about the program and expects to maintain the program to the new group of Grade 7 students in the next school year.

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald