Facebook Surprises School With 100 Laptops

Facebook, the popular social networking website, has distributed more than 100 laptops at Everett Middle School in California. The Lenovo Thinkpads were given to 8th graders at the school in a surprise event, writes Andra Cernavskis of Mission Local.

Facebook’s Chief Information Officer Tim Campos told kids that “I know some of you will be creating the next Facebook.”

“You have to have technology in order to have access to technology,” Campos told the kids who soon learned that he had brought the hardware with him. “We are giving each and every one of you a laptop,” he said. They held their breaths for just a second before they cheered, clapped, and looked at one another in disbelief.

Students are not allowed to take the machines home; all computers will stay at school. Everett’s teachers plan to use the laptops in the four main areas of study: English, math, science, and social studies.

Facebook’s donation comes completely separate of the School Improvement Grant funding, federal funds that will run out this year, the money Marc Benioff of salesforce.com plans to give the city’s twelve middle schools, and the Mission Promise Neighborhood grants, all of which Everett has received. Educators say it has all helped improve the school dramatically over the last three years.

Everett Middle School in San Francisco moved up 40 points in the Academic Performance Index, which has made it the most improved school in the city in the last year. The school, however, still performs below the district average on standardized tests.

“There is a reason that this group of students was chosen to get this gift,” Principal Lena Van Haren said. “You guys came to school here in 6th grade almost two and a half years ago, and at that time our school had just received a grant to turn around. It was a school that parents didn’t necessarily want to send their kids to … It was not a school we are as proud of as we are now.”

In addition to donating 100 laptops at Everett school, Facebook also gave 25 laptops to students at Mission High School.

Facebook recently decided to loosen the rules on posting by teens in an effort to attract more advertisers who target the teen market. Teenagers can now make posts that can be viewed by the public, in line with what other social networking sites like Twitter are already doing.