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TMCNet:  Graduates of computer learning program receive free computers

[November 21, 2012]

Graduates of computer learning program receive free computers

Nov 19, 2012 (Winston-Salem Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Mary Clement, 66, was the oldest person in her Connect Your Community computer class.

She learned all about computers, how they work, and how they can help make her life easier. She learned how to use the Internet, email and Microsoft Office 2003 software.

On Monday, Clement, 66, was one of the 205 graduates of Connect Your Community who were honored during a reception at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools' administration building on Bethania Station Road.

"It was so exciting and so intriguing," Clement said of the program. "I learned so much, especially how to use an USB flash drive." As part of the program, Clement received a refurbished laptop computer.

Clement said she's opened her home, allowing children from her neighborhood off Northampton Drive in northeastern Winston-Salem to come in and use the computer.

Like most of the program participants, Clement has children or grandchildren in the school system.

Clement's two grandsons attend Hanes Middle School, and her granddaughter attends Parkland High School.

The program was paid for using more than $3 million in federal grant money that WinstonNet Inc. received in 2010 to provide free computer training for adults in Forsyth County.

WinstonNet is a partnership of local governments, academic institutions and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. It was started in 2001 to help bridge the technology divide between higher- and lower-income residents by providing free computer labs and tutoring services.

At the reception, Bob Dostal, the administrator for Connect Your Community, said that 1,880 people have graduated from the program. They received instruction in basic computer skills at local schools, computer labs and other locations.

"We have accomplished a lot, and we are proud of what you achieved," Dostal told the graduates.

Betty Weycker, the school district's assistant superintendent for technology, said that the program fulfills the school system's goal of providing technology to improve teaching, learning and communication between teachers, students and their parents.

Weycker encouraged the program's graduates to get more involved in their children's education. "You have the tools now," she said.

Mariano Moreno said he will follow Weycker's advice. He plans to use his newly acquired computer skills to help his daughter, who attends Easton Elementary School.

"Being part of my daughter's education is the best thing to happen to me," Moreno told the audience. "Helping children to be a success in their life is the best opportunity a parent can have." ___ (c)2012 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.) Visit Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.) at www2.journalnow.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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