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How Black STEM Students Are Keeping Philadelphia’s School Technology In Working Order, One Computer At a Time

West Philadelphia High School responded to the pandemic like many other school districts across the country by sending its nearly 198,000 students home to learn on school-issued Chromebooks.

Naturally, the technology endured wear and tear, and the district tapped one of its three computer systems networking programs to get the devices back in working order.

Nah’ree Gross, 18, is a junior at West Philadelphia High School and is a student in the program. Gross says he’s always had a knack for tech.

“I grew up loving technology in general, video games, Xbox and computers and stuff so it just came naturally to me,” Gross said.

Sophomore Nyeem Shubert, 16, is also in the program, and he says his interest in tech grew over time as he grew to learn more about the roles of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“I didn’t know what was in the program then they brought Chromebook repair to my mind then I started repairing Chromebooks, and I started to like it,” Shubert said.

The computer systems networking program is part of the school’s career technical education (CTE) that’s designed to get students comfortable with computers and other technology.

The district has utilized the student’s developing skill sets as an in-house technology repair shop, which helps with hands-on experience, although students are not paid for their work done in class. The class instructor Marie Wilkins-Walker told, “The class services computers within its school system, but also computers throughout the district.”

A district spokeswoman says since the pandemic started, its district-wide repair centers have fixed more than 30,000 devices each school year, and West Philadelphia High School is repairing an additional 60 Chromebook devices per week. Currently, the school dedicates 180- 270 minutes a week of class time repairing Chromebooks.

Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.

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