WPE Computer Lab

WPE’s State-of-the-Art Computer Lab

Appeared in Widow’s Perch Herald on September 5th, 1985


When Widow’s Perch Elementary’s renovation was completed in 1985, the state of Oregon took notice. A strong purveyor of a modern education, Kenneth Lyons has very possibly fulfilled a lifelong desire to make our small town a haven of fine public education, which may attract new families to this area of the valley. Today, I am looking at the new computer lab in particular, which will very soon host classes of kids, from first to fifth grade.

Attached to the new library, and thereby playing one part in bringing it to the new nationwide standard known as a media center, the twelve-computer lab can fit a single class at any time, so long as children “buddy up” with their student peers. The machines are lightly used 1983 IBM XTs that were formerly employed in the Willamette Union Tower’s small and only local brokerage firm, and were reportedly purchased for a “fair price” after the business was liquidated. Mr. Lyons has valued the worth of the computers and room itself at around $100,000, and he plans to replace the units every four years to keep them up to date.

“No students will use the same computer all throughout their time at Widow’s Perch Elementary”, Mr. Lyons told us over the phone. “In this rising technological age, that would just be shameful. This era will move fast, and our children need to be competitive and knowledgeable of the computer industry when they eventually graduate.”

The rest of the media center is also very competitive with schools around the country, and is a real “step up”, Mr. Lyons assures us, from the days of the old Widow’s Perch Elementary, which had a notoriously outdated sunken library that was known to be cold, dimly lit, and smell of mildew year round. Although a card catalog system will still be in use for the foreseeable future, Dr. Filmore, Principal, hopes to phase them out within a few years and replace them with a separate computer system.

“We are very excited about our new media center,” Ms. Patterson, Vice Principal, was on scene to tell us. “It really is the pride of the new school. Computers have advanced so much, and to think that they are now within the price range and size that we can have twelve of them for our school is truly amazing.”

Students will learn how to use floppy disks to load programs and save files, how to print documents, and even play some educational games. One day soon, when the cost of computer systems makes them even more within reach of most families, homework may even enter the digital age as well.

“But, for now, handwritten assignments will continue to be the norm,” the vice principal assures us.

Mrs. Farthing, the long-time school librarian who has seen many changes over the years, was also present and seemed undaunted by the computers. “Last year, we began to build a library of instructional video tapes to show on our class television sets, to replace our old film reels. Educational tools may change, but learning does not,” she tells us. “As long as there is discipline in instruction, knowledge is properly achieved.”

Mr. Lyons has even gone so far as to pay a local access television studio to produce a special, unique instructional video to introduce students to the machines. Firetown Elementary received a similar lab last year. There is no word yet if he plans to invest in a computer lab for Blue Mountain Elementary.