By Nancy Gutierrez

When Pete VanGilluwe started working at Sequoia Union seven years ago there were only 12 or 13 computers available to the kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

"When I got here I thought we needed to increase [the amount of computers]," he said. "It is important for kids to know how to use computers and it benefits them if they know before they get to high school."

In 1997 VanGilluwe started looking for ways to generate more computers. Now seven years later there are 140 computers available to the 300 students, which amounts to less than a three to one ratio. There are three computer labs on campus with a total of 60 computers. Each classroom has five to eight computers. Initially VanGilluwe purchased computers from companies like Dell and Gateway. But five years ago he started traveling to military bases in California to take their computers that were no longer in use.

"I heard that the military gets rid of their computers after a few years," he said. "But they are still usable for school purposes."

VanGilluwe has several contacts in bases around California, and had just picked-up. 16 computers from an Air Force base in Santa Maria. He said he has received close to 200 computers from military bases.

"This enables me to upgrade all the time so the computers are fairly new," he said.

Next month he is traveling to an Air Force base in Riverside to pickup more. With these resources students at Sequoia Union are able to learn not just about keyboarding and Word Processing, but graphic design, PowerPoint, Photoshop and Internet researching.

"Our Internet speed is substantial," VanGilluwe said. "When the kids leave here they will know how to look for something on the Internet and where to go."

Teachers have the responsibility of developing curriculum for technology and, though VanGilluwe said some teachers utilize the computer more than others, he said many of the students leave sequoia Union with an above average proficiency in computer technology.

"There are resources on the Internet for math and reading," he said. "They use Word Processing to make reports and PowerPoint to make presentations."

VanGilluwe said fourth grade students have done PowerPoint presentations on the California missions, and eighth grade students have used Photoshop to design and create covers for DVD's. Kindergartners have their own lab with computers that contain software with math, writing and color programs. In a current events class students must answer 25 questions regarding present-day events going on across the world, using the Internet. "We've really come a long way," VanGilluwe said.

For VanGilluwe skills in technology are a necessity not a privilege. When he is not fixing computers or working with teachers and students in the computer lab or traveling to pick up new computers, he works on receiving grants form the government to get more funding for more technology.

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