Out With The Old, In With The New: Lakeland’s Chromebook Initiative

Lakeland Regional High School is excited to become a 1:1 district, offering Chromebooks to every student.


Morgan Uhlhorn

Lakeland students have received their Chromebooks in the Media Center and are now ready to use their devices in classes. Pictured here is junior Isabella Kebabjian receiving hers from Media Specialist Linda Owens.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools worldwide have begun to rely on online-based education. This shift to virtual learning has caused many school districts to heavily depend on the availability of computers for their students. As a result, Lakeland Regional High School has created a 1:1 Chromebook initiative to ensure that all students will have access to any virtual learning applied in their classrooms. The staff of The Lancer Ledger sat down with some staff members of LRHS to answer questions about this new change coming to the Lakeland community.


The Reasoning Behind The Chromebook Distribution

One of LRHS’ staff members that played an intricate part of this undertaking was Mr. Michael Novak. As the Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Mr. Novak oversees a lot of the updates Lakeland provides for its students. In his opinion, education has dramatically changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. He tells The Lancer Ledger, “One of the things that our teachers did so well during the pandemic was to switch many of their lessons to a virtual platform in which they used technology to supplement learning.” This shift in instruction changed the way teachers planned for their students to learn. Now, after almost two years into the pandemic, Lakeland’s initiation with the Chromebooks hopes to change the school’s style of learning to a more 21st century version. 

If the past two years of virtual learning has taught LRHS anything, it’s that some of the things the pandemic has brought along have proven to be good for the school, and not just bad. For example, this initiation of Chromebooks for every student is something many staff and students are getting excited for. Mr. Novak explains that “many different entities talk about ‘COVID-keepers’- essentially things that we learned that were GOOD from COVID. This is one of those things–that our teachers and students got really, really good with using digital devices to enhance learning. Why not give them the tools they need to succeed if we now have the means to do so?” 

Unfortunately, due to the Chromebooks being handed out, some Lakeland students had feared that this was Lakeland’s way to prepare to shut down and go virtual for a bit. But when The Lancer Ledger asked Mr. Novak what the chances of shifting to virtual learning were, he enthusiastically responded with, “NONE!!!! None whatsoever. We are committed to remaining open.” Hopefully, students will take the Chromebooks as a sign that times are changing, not that LRHS wants to go back to the ways of last year. 


The Ones Who Brought The Idea To Life

Using an organized system (pictured here), LRHS’ IT department worked hard to make sure every Chromebook was correctly programmed and updated for student use. (Emily Becker)

Some of those responsible for making this initiative happen include the IT department at LRHS. David Bochkay and Kel Pilshaw, both technology integration specialists, have been working continuously to get the Chromebooks correctly programmed and updated. When asked about any unseen issues with the Chromebooks, Mr. Bochkay was unsure, as it is still early on in the process. However, Mr. Pilshaw humorously joked, “But there will be!” Bochkay said on a positive note that the crew “will handle them as they come up.” 

The Lancer Ledger also asked about the Internet connection and if any improvements will be made, especially with past years connection issues. Mr. Bochkay said, “The answer is yes”; adjustments to the Wi-Fi will be made. In order for everything to run smoothly, the IT department said the school “will probably be getting rid of the student BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] network in favor of the Chromebooks” which “should benefit everybody.” Alongside this, there will be other improvements such as new, powerful Wi-Fi access points, an upgrade in their fiber optic backbone to 10 gigabytes, and finally replacing network switches.

Another important person in this process, Ms. Linda Owens, media specialist. When asked about the distribution process she told The Lancer Ledger, “They are going to be done by grade, with the focus right now being to get the Chromebooks ready and formatted so that they are ready to go.” Ms. Owens explained that there will also be paperwork, insurance, and parent involvement in the operation, and has been working to set up a distribution process that will be quick and organized. 

The Lancer Ledger also asked Ms. Owens about her take on this new step for LRHS. “I think it’s going to be good; it puts everybody on [the same] level,” she shared. She continued, explaining that with this initiative comes with a lot of responsibilities for students. “Students have to keep it charged and… bring it with.”

To add to this, she said, “Teachers will use them as they see fit,” and since every student and teacher will have a device readily available, “no one can say I don’t have it.” Ms. Owens and many other LRHS members view this as a “step in the right direction for Lakeland’s new tech,” and everyone is excited to finally incorporate this new addition.


The Teachers’ Standpoints

One of LRHS’ business teachers, Ms. Jessica Geyer, told The Lancer Ledger she considers herself fortunate to be able to work with computers all the time. She’s excited to see how the distribution of the Chromebooks will benefit Lakeland, as “it’s something [she has] always been passionate about as an educator.”

The Ledger also interviewed science teacher Ms. Brenda Ferguson, who expressed that in the past it has been difficult to obtain Chromebooks for lessons with animations and/or interactives due to the limited amount available. However, she elaborated that “if students all have their own Chromebooks, it will make it much easier to respond to what students need to master a concept without having to reserve a Chromecart in advance.”

Overall, most LRHS teachers believe that the Chromebook distribution will be beneficial due to the teaching opportunities they provide. That being said, they still feel there’s an adjustment period for both the staff and students. 


The Students’ Take On The New Addition

Media Specialist Ms. Linda Owens had the immense task of distributing Chromebooks to every student at Lakeland, which they did by grade level. Pictured here are Chromebooks assigned organized by grade. (Emily Becker)

The new Chromebook initiative will obviously have a major impact on all students at LHRS. 

Junior Melissa Meakem told The Lancer Ledger that she feels that distributing Chromebooks to each student is a good idea, as not everyone has a personal device to bring to classes. Along with this, Meakem believes this new initiative could improve students’ work, as virtual assignments tend to be easily formatted. 

Kaelin Anderson, a junior at LRHS, also supports all students receiving Chromebooks. She sees this decision as beneficial, as it would help her not become distracted in class as she would be using her personal device. She also sees this as a good idea “just in case the school needs to close.”

The Lancer Ledger also interviewed sophomore Amir Mamkegh, who believes taking Chromebooks home has both pros and cons. Mamkegh believes it is a good idea and will be very useful to have a personal device on hand at school. However, he also thinks the Chromebooks will have the disadvantage of “Chromebooks will make [his] bag heavy.” Despite this, Mamkegh overall thinks “it’s a good idea,” and is excited to start using his device. 


Here’s To The Future

Moral of the story, the Lakeland community is very excited about the distribution of personal Chromebooks, and has a hopeful outlook for the future. This new initiative has the potential to make learning more convenient in classes, and will overall help students experience a new sense of responsibility. On behalf of the The Lancer Ledger staff, we express great gratitude to the IT department and all of the Lakeland staff who put in the hard work in making this vision become a reality.