James River High School seniors bridge digital divide

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For their senior Capstone Project, Sophie Azula and Kate Morris, two students in the Leadership and International Relations Specialty Center at James River High School, are implementing a plan to help better students’ education within their own school  community. They have been researching and formulating a plan to combat the digital divide that goes largely unaddressed within public education systems. 

A digital divide is defined as the gap between those who have access to or the use of both computers and the Internet and those who do not. In their efforts to bridge the digital divide in their school, they reached out to  Brian Jones, the school division’s executive director of technology, for a little help putting their plan into action. 

“I was excited when these two James River students contacted me to tell me about the project they wanted to undertake,” said Mr. Jones. “We have been having the same conversations as groups of adults about how do we meet the needs of our students who don’t have internet access at home.”  

Sophie and Kate’s innovative solution was to obtain and  introduce 10 portable Wifi hotspots into their school’s library for students to check out and take home. These hotspots, also called “Kajeet SmartSpots,” are currently available for all James River students to checkout at the library and take home to use for educational purposes. Their hope with this project is to benefit students who do not have access to the Internet as a readily available academic resource within their own homes.

“What Sophie and Kate have done to level the playing field and help their peers achieve academic success is impressive and inspiring,” said Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty. “Thanks to strong community partnerships, these two students were able to solve real-world problems and meet with success.”

To help fund these new hotspot devices, Sophie and Kate will host a Digital Divide Auction Night in the James River High School Library on Nov. 7 from 6-8 p.m. At this event, attendees will be given the opportunity to bid on baskets full of goods donated by local businesses silent-auction style. Complimentary dinner catered by O’Toole’s and entertainment performed by James River students will be provided for guests as well. 

For those who would like to donate but cannot attend the event, Sophie and Kate have created a GoFundMe page: http://gofundme.com/f/JRHS-hotspots To learn more about Sophie and Kate’s story, click here.

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