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Sterling High School seeking funds for equipment for new technology room – Journal Advocate

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Sterling High School is working to put together a new multifunction technology room. Hee Hun Cho spoke about the need for the room and asked for support from the RE-1 Valley School Board at a regular meeting Monday at SHS.
“It does cross many places; it’s not just for multimedia, which I teach,” Cho said about the room, which the school began working on at the end of last April. “The idea for this is to benefit not just CTE (career technical education), but the rest of the school building.”
Housed in what was used to be an art lab, once the room is completed it will hold a Vinyl Cutter large printer that will print out 54 inches and larger prints, which the school can use to print T-shirts, and there will be 3D printers and a resin printer as well. Cho said they also hope to have high-end computers that will last more than five or seven years; with the type of computers they’re looking at, the school would be able to simply upgrade parts instead of buying whole new computer towers.
Cho explained that computer upgrades will help students get a head start learning to use equipment that they might be using when they enter the workforce.
The technology room will also be used for SHS’s e-sports team, which Cho coaches. E-sports is rapidly growing in schools across the U.S. and was recently also added at Sterling Middle School. It provides an alternative for students who might not be able to financially afford to participate in different after-school extracurricular activities. Through e-sports, SHS students are able to compete live against other schools in different video games in three different leagues.
“What I’m trying to do is give them an opportunity for them to fit in,” Cho said. “It is a CHSAA sanctioned, so we actually have a lot of regulations. The games are actually limited to certain types, so it’s not all gory or violent, there are some mixed, but they make sure they are very school-safe games. It’s a lot more wholesome than what people think.”
SHS’s team is growing; when it first started in 2019 there were eight members, last year it grew to 25 and this year there are 35 players. Right now, the team’s game room is a small room within the school library that is not big enough to hold 35 people and there are just six computers and four consoles, which makes it very hard to compete.
“We have to stagger games and there’s no time for practice,” Cho said.
The team has done some fundraising, including running the concession stand at volleyball games, to raise money to help with equipment upgrades and pay for participation in the leagues.
Cho shared that while a lot of the computers they have right now will run, they take about 25 minutes to start the program and there are also issues with various computers related to the internet and making sure the program is updated. He thanked Rodney Karg, district tech specialist, for all of his assistance, noting he is the only one in the district who can help with the programs.
At this point, after extensive electrical upgrades, the school now has the new tech room hardwired with internet set up; they just need the equipment.
According to SHS Interim Principal Mark Appelhans, there is about $38,000 left in the Walsh Fund, which was ear tagged for technology and science for SHS and he would like to see those funds used for the new technology room, but first, he wants to make sure those funds are still readily available. He has been working with the district’s former chief financial officer, Deb County, to verify those funds are there.
“I would like to start using some of those Walsh funds to maybe not buy all of this at once, but maybe step it in a little bit in a couple of years,” Appelhans told the board, adding, “We also have to worry about what the upkeep is going to be, because with any technology, five, six years down the road, it becomes a little bit obsolete, so we want to make sure that we can sustain it too.”
Interim Superintendent Dr. Martin Foster advised the board there were some issues with the accounting department trying to figure out exactly how much is in the Walsh Fund but it’s being addressed.
“Once I think we locate these dollars and we’re certain we’ve got them, I would strongly recommend we get this done,” he told the board, adding that he is confident they should have it figured out sooner rather than later.
When it is determined those funds are available, the request will be brought to the board for approval.
Later in the meeting, a parent, Michael Stevens, expressed concern about the parking lot at Sterling Middle School where students are getting dropped off. He called it “chaos” and told the board that a handful of veterans have come to him as Commander of the VFW Post #3541 to share their concerns.
“Numerous mornings and afternoons I’m watching these kids dart across the road, play frog, or ultimately try not to get hit by cars. I see these cars just pulling off willy-nilly,” Stevens said, telling the board that text messages the school has sent to parents telling them the proper procedure are not working, nor is the gate that was put up that says exit only. “It’s still a free for all.”
He questioned if there could be crossing guards and if road indications or crosswalks could be put in the parking lot where the parents pull in front of the school because right now there are none.
“Just in the last week alone, three out of the five days I went to pick up my kid I’m meeting a car head-on flipping me the bird while my kid, who’s 11 years old, is watching this because we’re going out the exit and cars are coming in the exit. I don’t see this at any other schools that I go to, mainly because they have guards out with vests and signs directing traffic,” Stevens said.
Dr. Foster said he has spoken to SMS Principal Bob Hall and has observed the problem. He pointed out the way that parking lot was designed and the way people enter and come through just lends to chaos.
“If people would be courteous, go about the rules, stay in a line, pull up, drop their child off and wait to leave, it would work but what they do is they go around and they zip through there,” he said.
Dr. Foster suggested they could have another traffic study done.
“Without a complete redesign of it probably the only other answers would be to try to get some people out there in the mornings and the evenings to help direct the traffic, but I really don’t have any answers for it,” he said.
Board member Joel McCracken, who is an engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said a traffic study would probably just suggest a complete redesign of the parking lot or new striping.
Stevens said when there is a police presence things get better, but then when they leave it gets worse again. McCracken asked if the police department could work with the school; Dr. Foster said there is a possibility and told the board he would contact them.
Steve Shinn shared that they’ve kicked around the concept of an SRO dedicated to schools; that could help with this and other issues, but they have not been able to move that far yet.
“We will make the best efforts we can based upon what resources we have available,” he said about addressing the parking lot problem.
Earlier in the evening, the board heard presentations from FFA and FBLA students about their recent activities.
FFA Vice President Alie Sator mentioned a couple of fundraisers they have going on right now. The chapter has partnered with Logan County Burrito Company for a raffle, first place gets one burrito every week for a year, second place wins one burrito twice a month for a year and third place will get one burrito once a month for a year. The drawing will take place on Nov. 30; tickets are $1 apiece and can be purchased at the restaurant or from any Sterling FFA member.
The chapter is also selling apple pies donated by Nystrom Orchard for $20 a pie.
FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) President Taylor Simants and Social Media Strategist Macie Doherty spoke about what the chapter has been working on this year, noting they’ve built a lot of new things from the ground up. That chapter has started making newsletters and also created a YouTube channel with several videos that are shown in the morning during advisory period to promote FBLA, plus they attended the “Business of Baseball Day” with the Colorado Rockies. They have about 50 members right now.
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