Friday, April 13, 2001

Computer-repair students learn high-tech ropes

Hamilton teens now certified

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON - Eight months ago, Adam Weinheimer was scared to even take the casing off a computer.

        Today the Hamilton High School senior can build one from scratch. He and his classmates are often called upon to troubleshoot problems or make repairs on the 500-plus computers at Hamilton High and at the Hamilton Job Development Center.

[photo] Senior Adam Weinheimer (left), and junior Tim Shea install a computer server.
(Enquirer photos)
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        “I would not even unscrew a screw before,” said Adam, 18. “Now I'm fearless. I take them apart without even thinking.”

        Adam's confidence and skills grew during the information technology class he is taking. It was begun this year by teacher Chris Carman, a former chemistry teacher. Using a $30,000 grant for start-up supplies, Mr. Carman is teaching nine students the ins and outs of computers.

        Last month they became the first high school group to take — and pass — the difficult CompTia A+ Certification exams at Norwood's Max Technical Training, said Rochelle Carlton, a testing center administrator.

        “It's very rare. It's a very difficult test. They are not easy exams. A lot of adults can't pass them.”

        Earning the certification means the six seniors and three juniors are qualified to work on computer hardware as well as troubleshoot software and configure computers.

        “They can go out right now and get a job,” Mr. Carman said.

[photo] Grace Mathieu, a Hamilton High senior, and junior Steve Mullins make connection cables during information technology class this week at the high school.
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        Part of the class is spent learning about computer operating systems and hardware, while the rest is spent doing hands-on work. T Teachers bring their computers to the students when they need hardware or software installed or are having difficulty.

        “I never was a computer nerd. I didn't like computers. I used them for the basic necessities, like writing papers,” said 18-year-old Tiffany Warren, who took the class to fill out her schedule.

        “Now I consider myself a computer nerd and I'm proud to say it.”

        Hamilton High School Principal Tom Alf said the work students do for other teachers has a dual purpose: It frees the technology coordinator to focus more on curriculum instead of repairs, and it shortens the time for computer problems to be resolved.

        “It gives the kids hands-on experiences where they can apply what they've learned,” Mr. Alf said.

        Next year the class will be offered to 41 students and Mr. Carman is beginning a Web site design and programming class.


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