Source: The Observer/Eccentric
Author: Katie Birecki
Technology has affected everyone's lives ... whether we like it or not! For some, using a smart phone or tablet may be just as hard as solving a complicated math problem. Others, however, operate electronics like it is second nature to them. People nowadays say that teenagers are more adept to using technology because they have grown and changed alongside the gadgets. I am proof to this statement because my whole life has revolved around technology.
My father was fascinated by technology ever since the first computer was released. His passion and love for technology spilled into his career, where he became the Technology Director at his work.
For as long as I can remember, my dad taught me everything there is to know about the world of technology. In grade school computer classes, I eagerly taught my fellow peers shortcuts on Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. I knew things like how to set a picture around text wrap, changing the fonts, and add awesome transitions in Powerpoint from one slide to the next. For a first grader, this was pretty advanced stuff!
Also, my dad also always informed me about new products and programs hitting store shelves. We would purchase them and figure out how to use them. When he got his first smartphone, a Microsoft Windows Pocket PC, he fell in love with it, as did I. Together, we learned how to email, call, text, and access the Internet all on this one tiny device.
Playing games on it was pretty fun, too.
My ever-growing love for technology played a big factor when I was deciding what high school to attend. In the end, I chose Mercy High School where classroom technology is incorporated in every student's life. When I was a freshman in 2012, Mercy made the switch from HP tablet computers to Apple iPads and MacBooks. Not only would I be introduced to a new form of classroom learning, but I would also be exposed to Apple products, which I was not previously acquainted with.
It took a while, but I eventually figured out how to use my iPad. Once I did, using different apps in the classroom became much more fun, and it was exciting to learn about new technology. I even helped my friends when they had trouble with their iPads.
That's when I saw there was a new club at school called the iWizards, which was started by Mercy's vice principal, Larry Baker, and the two technical advisors Tom James and Gary Bank. The goal of the iWizards is to help students and teachers with technical difficulties. My always growing interest in technology led me to join the club as a freshman.
Since the beginning, the iWizards have not only helped in the classroom, but we've taught incoming freshmen how to use their new iPads. We hold a tech orientation two days before the beginning of the school year, where we divide the students into different groups. There, they learn all about apps that will be useful for them in the classroom, such as Keynote, iMovie, and several note-taking apps. It makes their transition from paper and pen to tablets and typing a whole lot easier, especially for those who aren't accustomed to technology.
The iWizards have also had amazing opportunities to grow and share our passion and knowledge of technology outside of school. In October 2013, we went to the Google headquarters in Ann Arbor where we saw what Google employees do and what it would be like to work there. Mercy also held a tech conference, known as "Tech Talk," at which teachers and staff from several surrounding schools came to Mercy to attend seminars about technology in the classroom. The iWizards attended the "Tech Talk" to speak about technology in the classroom at Mercy from a student's perspective.
My proudest achievement was when Mercy was named an Apple Distinguished School because I got to be an integral part of the process. To achieve this prestigious award, Mercy had to create a leadership program, which was the iWizards, that worked together with students and teachers. We also had to use Apple products in the classroom frequently. As a final application, Mercy made an iBook to describe how technology is used within our school, which is now available for free on the iBook store. It felt amazing knowing that I helped my school receive an award for something I have loved ever since my dad first taught me how to use a computer.
But sadly in 2011, my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away in 2013. Everything I have accomplished with technology would not have been possible without the knowledge my dad passed on to me at a very young age. Even though he isn't around to see my flourishing passion for technology, I know that he would be very proud of what I've done and who I've become.
Katie Birecki is a Mercy High School student. She is a member of iWizards and on the staff of the Mercy High School newspaper, “Newsprint.” She will write columns about technology for the Farmington Observer.