Roslyn students in a frenzy over high-tech surprise

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Roslyn students in a frenzy over high-tech surprise

Hundreds of students from Roslyn School gathered in their gym Tuesday afternoon for what they thought was just another assembly.

Not long after school principal Nick Katalifos quieted the students down, the room filled with their excited cheers — and it wasn't because their school mascot Rozzy was there.

The Grade 2 to 6 students had a surprise waiting for them: 30 new laptops.

Many were thrilled to hear they'd get to use the laptops in their homeroom class.

"I was kind of in shock because I didn't know if [the laptops] were for the whole school," said Grade 5 student Andrei dara Marentette.

Roslyn, a school of the English Montreal School Board located in Westmount, is one of 10 public schools across North America that received a $10,000 grant through IT solutions provider Softchoice's partnership with Lenovo and VMware.

The grant money was used to purchase new 30 laptops and a charging station.

Teachers will be able to reserve the laptops for different class activities, but the charging station will remain in the school library.

Laptops in high demand

The school has a computer lab but it is often booked for media literacy courses, such as coding, video-editing and other technology courses.

"There was a need for homeroom teachers to have access to a portable lab, " said technology teacher Julie Marcus, who applied for the grant.

With nearly 700 students from kindergarten to Grade 6, having more laptops will make scheduling computer time in the lab easier.

"We're such a large school…By having a second lab that's mobile, we'll be able to alleviate that pressure," said Katalifos, who has been principal at the school for four years.

Marcus said the laptops give the students the tools to be more self-sufficient.

"With computers at your fingertips, you can use programs like Bon Patron to correct your French…or you can go on Khan Academy on your own time with headphones if you need to further a specific topic in math," she said.

Testing out the new laptops

After the assembly, a Grade 5 class got to test out the new laptops.

Led by Marcus, who has taught at Roslyn for six years, the students translated sentences from French to English using the online French grammar checker, Bon Patron.

Student Alejandra Lozano-Ramsay said she's eager to use the laptops for future science and French projects.

"I'm excited because I'm using a real computer…and it's fun to use."