Amherst, NY - Tuesday night, one-hundred sixth graders at Sweet Home Middle School got their own iPads.
While they will not completely replace text books right away, the goal is for every middle and high school student in the district to have an iPad 4 by next September.
"I don't have one of these at home, so I'm looking forward to this," says sixth grader Kenny Naples.
Naples has just been handed a big responsibility.
"I think the most useful thing is when the teachers put on the projector and you can have group discussions without kids interrupting each other, and you'll each have their turn. So it'll be easier for everyone to have their chance to speak and talk," he says.
Tuesday was iPad deployment night at Sweet Home Middle School.
"I'm very excited for the children. I think it will teach them responsibility, ingenuity because they'll be able to do research and it'll give them a chance to discuss different topics with their classmates," says Kenny's mother, Linda.
These students are already tech savvy. They did not need any help firing up their iPads, and they all got started before the Digital Citizenship course even began.
Sweet Home students will be responsible for these new iPads for the next three years. Then, they will get new ones.
"One of the other more final steps in the process is being able to, what we call curation, being able to create a work and then have it out there for others to see and we think that will be a phenomenal way to celebrate student success," says Principal Martin Pizur.
If the iPad accidentally breaks, the students and their families will have to pay $20 for their first replacement, $50 for the second, and the full $200 insurance deductible for the third.
The iPads are also equipped with strict filters, which means no social media or chatting and messaging sites.
"The web filter that we have here at school which keeps students out of places where we wouldn't want them to be, that filter is on the device and stays on the device. So even if they go to a network that is not our network, those filtering systems take over," says Pizur.
And, while Naples and his classmates don't carry around heavy backpacks, they certainly have their hands full. He says the iPad will help make things a lot easier both in and out of the classroom.
"In the second half of my day, I always have to carry my zipper binder, my math binder, my text book, my folder and stuff so it's a lot to carry, but I think this will be a lot easier because I asked my social studies teacher if we'll need to use textbooks, and he said we'll mostly use this because some of the pages on our textbooks are on the websites that we use, so that will help a lot, too," says Naples.
The district paid for the iPads by reallocating budget funds for things like paper and other classroom supplies.
The students were also given a list of frequently asked questions and were told not to leave their iPads near pools, bathtubs or toilets.