Merced classroom reluctantly keeps it "old school"

MERCED, Calif.

Mrs. Burke's first-grade class at Ada Givens Elementary School in Merced is just like any other classroom. Students learn how to read and write but the computers they use are from a different generation. "The Apple IIe came into our district in the latter part of the 1980s and then our Macs came in the early 1990s," said teacher, Cheryl Burke.

Students use an Apple IIe and four Macintosh computers to sharpen their word processing skills. "These computers are turned on every morning and it's part of the children's 'Center time' when they finish their work," said Burke.

The IIe -- first released in 1983 -- is more like a box compared to today's smaller devices like the iPad. "Instead of having a CD or DVD, the only way our computers work is with a floppy disk," said Burke. We've come a long way from the 5 and ½ inch floppy disks. And although the IIe has broken down several times, it's still running strong -- even with some missing keys. "I like these ones more than the other ones because the other computers break down easier," said first-grader Abigale Murphy.

And it's that reliability that keeps Burke committed to Apple. But she admits, her class and the school's computer lab need new machines. "Our district tries very hard to help us with our computers but there's just no money anymore," said Burke.

Burke sent Apple a letter requesting help to restock her class and the school's lab with new Apple products. Apple replied saying they only offer education discounts. "Giving us a discount to buy new computers is nice if you have the money but we don't have the money so the discount doesn't do us any good," said Burke.

Burke is about to retire on June 1st and wanted to leave her mark with a new set of computers. Now she's hoping the community steps up to help a financially-strapped school.

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