Yosemite High School seniors and art students Issac Rumohr and Mary Weigel asked Sierra Tel’s Laura Norman on Friday what they could do to thank her.
“Maybe cookies?” “How about art work,” they suggested.
“Your exuberance was payment enough,” Norman told the pair, who could barely contain their excitement over the two Chromebooks recently donated to the art program by Sierra Tel.
“This is amazing, absolutely amazing,” Rumohr exclaimed as he touched the screen to navigate the system.
“It’s like Christmas in August,” added Weigel, who has been editing videos - a different form of digital art - using her cell phone.
Norman, chair of Sierra Tel’s Outreach Team, couldn’t stop smiling while taking in the scene and feeling the air charged with happiness.
“Education is such a priority for Sierra Tel,” Norman said. “When the school has a need in the classrooms that can’t be met because of the school’s budget, they submit an application to us for hardware. Our philosophy has forever been to support health, education and community service.”
It was about a year ago that Theatre Arts Teacher Lars Thorson realized that the theater needed new technology, something the school was unable to provide due to budgetary constraints, so he made a request to Sierra Tel for two laptops.
“My request was granted in June of last year, and we were so happy to receive them,” Thorson said. “One is used as a student resource for the classroom portion of the theater arts curriculum, and the other is installed in the theater for different groups to live stream events onto the screen, play music, show PowerPoints, and Google slide shows or media from flash drives.”
Then Thorson and Art Teacher Evan Higgins got to talking about how a couple of laptops could greatly enhance digital art teaching, and another request was made and subsequently granted.
And so, art students were surprised early Friday morning. The reaction?
“I think we got a standing ovation,” said Higgins, who couldn’t help but get caught up in the enthusiasm himself.
“It’s such a great start for our digital program,” he said. “It gives us full access to all the approaches that you can make in the arts. Not only do we have painting, drawing and sculpture, but now we can start attacking the digital realm. It’s essential in our era - as an artist - to know how to use these tools for a viable career. These students already have the foundation, and that’s going to be essential for them as they go digital ... they are all very aware of just how important that is.”
While gratitude for Sierra Tel’s generosity has regularly been expressed over the years, Norman said it was special to see firsthand the students’ excitement and eagerness to get behind those keyboards.
Their first computerized assignment?
Higgins said that after students have scanned images of their art, they will work on their pieces digitally.