Tuesday, 23 June 2020 10:58

'Seed of hope' planted as Panthers, Lenovo present RCS with 300 Chromebooks

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RCS superintendent Jeff Maples said a "seed of hope" has been planted after it was announced the district will receive 300 Chromebooks. RCS superintendent Jeff Maples said a "seed of hope" has been planted after it was announced the district will receive 300 Chromebooks.

HAMLET — Local elementary school students will get a chance to expand their education and remote learning thanks to a partnership between the Carolina Panthers and Lenovo.

Announced in a Zoom meeting Tuesday morning by an executive panel of education officials from across the state, Richmond County Schools will receive 300 Lenovo Chromebooks to benefit its students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also getting the same amount of laptops from the partnership will be Columbus County Schools.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson broke the news with a smile, as members of the Panthers, Lenovo and superintendents Dr. Jeff Maples (RCS) and Deanne Meadows (CCS) were joined by media members.

Representing the Panthers was linebacker Andre Smith, a 2018 draft pick and a member of Carolina’s Player Impact Committee. Lenovo, which is headquartered in Morrisville, N.C., saw executive director John Bischof also help deliver the announcement.

“The real credit goes to the Panthers’ Player Impact Committee and Lenovo,” Johnson said in his opening remarks. “They are donating 600 Chromebooks for students to use during such a difficult pandemic crisis.

“(The Panthers) reached out to us to see how they could help,” he added. “We all went from zero percent to 100 percent remote learning overnight and it was extremely challenging. We’re very grateful and a huge word of gratitude (to the Panthers and Lenovo) for helping our students and districts who need it most.”

Johnson explained that a series of surveys were sent out across the state to determine which school districts would receive the laptops. Smith added that “economic and education rankings” were taken into consideration. 

Richmond and Columbus counties were “honed in on because the (learning) gaps were so big” and the laptops would do the “most impact for the most students with the most need.” 

Maples opened his remarks by thanking Johnson for his direction during the last several months of remote learning. He noted that the laptops will be used for elementary school students, as Richmond Senior High School and Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy are one-to-one schools.

He also said that the district’s four middle schools have also been able to secure enough laptops to send home during the pandemic for students to complete work.

“A big shout out to the Panthers and Lenovo for recognizing underserved counties and showing they care about our kids and teachers,” Maples said. “They wanted to make a difference and have planted a seed of hope.

“Our kids are so excited for these laptops, and will be more excited when they know our Panthers helped us get them,” he added. “We’ll be able to provide Chromebooks for our elementary students and we couldn’t do that before.”

Whether or not RCS will be continuing remote learning to start the 2020-2021 school year has yet to be determined, but Maples said the new Chromebooks will be used to benefit students either way.

"As big Panthers fans, these 300 Chromebooks will ensure that our students have access to digital devices during the pandemic and beyond," Maples closed.

The devices are expected to be delivered to the two school districts some time within the next month.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 June 2020 11:08

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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