Students get training on free computers

May. 04, 2014 @ 08:01 PM

Ann Kelly watched her eighth-grade son, Gregory Murrell, excitedly click on the different computer menus and type in a document Friday.

“This is a great program to help in this connected age,” Kelly said. “We can set up a home office for him and get him ready for high school.”

Gregory was among more than 200 students at Whitnel Elementary School and William Lenoir Middle School who received a free desktop computer last week from the Kramden Institute, based in Durham. Kramden takes old computer equipment, restores it, then gives it to students in third to 12th grades who have been nominated by their teachers, said Cari DelMariani, the institute’s director of programs. Teachers nominate the students based on their need for a computer at home and their overall academic standing.

DelMariani and her team visited Whitnel Elementary on Thursday and William Lenoir Middle on Friday to instruct the students and their parents how to operate their computer and move through the Linux operating system installed on each. Programs were already installed on the computers, like Skype, Firefox and Google Chrome.

The recycled computers were a mismatch of parts, with names like Samsung, NEC and Lenovo on the desktop screens. The institute offers free technical support for as long as the students attend school.

Roger Ervin was grateful for the help for his grandson, 14-year-old Chase Rarick. Ervin said that he and his wife are retired, so it can be difficult getting new pieces of technology for Rarick.

“We’re not wanting for anything, but there are some things we could use, which was why I was so excited that he was chosen,” Ervin said.

After the tutorial, Murrell packed up his new computer with a big smile.

“I’m excited to try out Linux,” he said. “It’s different. I’ll probably use it for school work and games, if it works out well.”