Saluda Trail Middle School

iRock kicks off in Rock Hill schools as ‘deployment’ begins

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comAugust 27, 2013 

When eighth-grade students of Saluda Trail Middle School walked into the school’s media center Tuesday morning, they each carried a green sheet of paper. When they walked out, they had an iPad.

This was the first day of iPad deployment, part of the iRock initiative in the Rock Hill school district. The two-year, $9 million initiative will provide an iPad for every fourth- through eighth-grade student to use in the classroom and at home.

The first Saluda Trail student to receive a device was Kenny Allen, 13. He said he was looking forward to iRock and having his own iPad at school.

“It lets you create stuff,” said Kenny, who is still recovering from injuries he received in a May 2012 pit bull attack.

Each Saluda Trail student received a device, already charged and enclosed in a heavy-duty Griffin case, then went to tables where staff members scanned a bar code on the back of the iPad, linking the student with the device, like a library book.

The only programs on the iPad were the default applications Apple provides, such as iTunes, Calculator and Notes, and the “Find My iPad” app, which lets users locate devices if they are lost, according to Saluda Trail Assistant Principal Clayton Moton.

“Our teachers have been chomping at the bit, ready to go,” said Moton of the iRock program.

Saluda Trail is a STEM school (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and Moton said the staff was looking forward to having the iPad in their toolbox.

Many students at Saluda Trail and other district schools have used iPads in classes before, but Kyrah Chislon, an eighth-grader, said having her own felt “awesome.”

“Since we’re the first ones to get our iPads, it’s a privilege,” she said.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, Christopher Smith, the district’s director of staff development, said each school was taking control of its own iPad deployment and organizing the method and the timing. The very first schools began distribution on Monday.

The iPads in the hands of students are producing big plans in classrooms.

Kyrah said in one of her classes she and her fellow students were already designing their own apps. She’s working on one called “Racist Solvers,” with the goal of stopping racism in the world.

Another student, Carson Finley, said in her fashion design class, the teacher was going to let the students use the iPads for sketching and design.

“I’m very creative,” she said. “I love putting things together and I love technology, so this is great.”

Science teacher Tim Davis said he was looking forward to using the iPads as soon as possible. He said his classes use Edmodo, a social networking site for students and teachers, and use online textbooks. The iPads, he said, have animations and diagrams that students enjoy using.

“Before, not all students had access to (them) all the time,” Davis said.

These diagrams and animations let students better understand abstract concepts in the science curriculum, Davis said.

Language arts teacher Victoria Seachrist said her students will be using the iPads for research, collaborative learning and presentations.

“I think (the iPads are) going to bridge the gap,” she said, explaining that iPads gave all students access to the same resources.

More than 7,600 iPads will be deployed as part of this phase of iRock, Smith said at Monday’s board meeting. He also said the total number of iPads owned by the school district is approaching 10,000.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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