By Ashley Stracco, ’24
At Hanover High School, many students choose to take high level courses, as well as participate in extracurricular activities. In fact, this year there are a total of 237 students who will take a combined 441 AP exams this spring. I am presently a junior at HHS and have availed myself of many incredible opportunities. As an avid participant in AP courses, the music and drama programs, debate, and community service, this school has offered me many great opportunities. It is a great place with much potential for graduates to have extremely successful futures in a multitude of different fields. However, this school is flawed. Since the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, our school has been having issues with arguably the most important resource: WiFi and Internet connectivity. As a learning community, we have been informed that this issue will be fixed, yet this has gone on for far too long. In a building with such a vigorous learning pace, issues with WiFi and Internet connection must be dealt with immediately.
The main issue of not having adequate WiFi is that we simply cannot access course curriculums. Recently, I was in my first period AP English Language and Composition course. In preparation for class that day, students had worked very hard on slideshow presentations. My group was all ready to present; however, we could not access our presentation as the WiFi would not connect. This inconvenience halted our class from moving forward that day and, therefore, left us behind pace.
Another junior, Aidan O’Connor, has the same issues in his classes. “The Internet has become a necessary commodity in many schools across the world, including ours, and the lack of proper networking has wasted countless hours of class time,” he said. I couldn’t agree more.
Another instance in which a curriculum cannot be accessed is in Virtual High School (VHS) courses. VHS classes are entirely online and students have a set time in the school day to work on them. Mrs. McHugh, who supervises VHS, says students frequently lost class time in terms one and two and have needed many extensions. “Many students have work or sports after school, so losing that in-school class time has forced them to repeatedly play catchup,” she said.
The lack of Internet access has contributed negatively to my learning process. In courses with such rigorous pacing, how can we expect students to keep up with their work without the most important resource? And how am I supposed to compete with students worldwide when it comes to taking AP exams when we have not even been able to complete the curriculum? What about the college application process? Without high scores on AP exams, how am I supposed to compete at being admitted into a top tier college or university that I have been looking at and touring? This is not my fault, nor my peers, so why should we be the ones who are being penalized? It isn’t fair.
Internet access is vital to the world of research. While in the past, students would be expected to go to libraries and flip through multiple textbooks to research topics, it is a different world now. In this day and age, we, as students, are expected to have information at the ready. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 99 percent of United States public high schools have full WiFi and Internet access, so why don’t we? Instead of being taught how to receive information, students are taught from a young age how to decipher which information is reliable. Standards of education have shifted and students are expected to have facts and research at their fingertips at all times.
Not too long ago, I was in my AP Modern World History class attempting to research the similarities and differences between Asian Early Modern Era religions, but I hit the blockade of not having WiFi. I could not access the Internet for the entire class period; therefore, I had to complete the assignment at home. I am an extremely busy student, so this was a huge inconvenience. Situations like this occur daily; so much class time is wasted. Students are also becoming stressed due to the immense amount of homework that they now have due to inadequate resources. Once again, why should the students have to suffer if the current situation is not their fault?
The WiFi and Internet are also huge safety resources in schools. Since 1970, there have been 2,067 school shootings in the United States alone. In preventative training measures, students and staff are told if they hear information about a danger in the school, they must communicate through cellular devices to the rest of the school. How are we supposed to do this if even a mere text won’t go through? As much as the lack of WiFi and Internet is an issue in education, it is a grave danger for our safety. Recently, when asked about the issue, nurse Rosalind Davis stated that the only means of communication with the outside world that she is able to use during the school day is her office landline. This is very dangerous. If the school were to be faced with any type of emergency, we would not be equipped to handle it. Not fixing the issue is leaving the students, staff, and visitors of Hanover High School at risk or injury or worse.
According to Superintendent Matt Ferron, in an email to staff in January, “our technology needs have increased exponentially in the past decade, and the hardware and capacity required to stay current are expensive and presently challenging to obtain.” In recent months, the district has prioritized upgrading hardware and data capacity, aiming to boost the Internet and WiFi in the short term while addressing larger infrastructure issues in the long term.
“This will not be fixed overnight, and it is likely that some of the major work will be done over February vacation,” Mr. Ferron wrote. “This project is our highest priority right now, and we are committing the resources to see short term improvement and long-term reliability.”
Curriculum Director Matt Plummer added in a recent interview, “Our IT Director, Mr. Michael Wildrick, just ordered two new servers to improve the network — which serves both HHS and Cedar School. Those servers will be installed as soon as possible!”
Featured imaged: https://www.smehorizon.com/frustration-at-technology-a-factor-in-employees-leaving-jobs/