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Apalachee Ridge Technology Center helps bridge digital divide for LCS students

Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 18:32:29-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Communities are united in Leon County to make sure students are ready to take on this school year.

Appalachee Ridge and Tech Center are teaming up to help Big Bend area students.

The Tech Center has been around for years, helping curb the original digital divide by teaching adults to do things like navigating the internet.

Now, the center says there's a different divide and they want the future leaders in town to be ready.

"We came to him three weeks ago with this opportunity, two weeks later we have new computers in our center," said Christic Henry, the coordinator with Apalachee Ridge and Technology Center.

Seventeen new computers fill the main room of the Apalachee Ridge and Technology Center to help kids access the internet for Leon County Schools' virtual and digital academies.

It's thanks, in part, to investor Freddie Figgers who says he just wanted to pay it forward.

"I said, 'Hey, let's get it done,'" says Figgers.

Figgers says he wanted to pay it forward because he's aware of how many students are struggling right now.

Now, they'll have 24-hour key access to the lab nestled in the Orange Ave community.

"For distance learning, this is the perfect location for any child that's on the southside," said Figgers.

LCS is facing its own digital divide, still waiting for the shipment of laptops they ordered.

With more than 15,000 students choosing digital learning to stay safe from the pandemic, the district is asking those who can to use their own computers temporarily.

Assistant superintendent Gillian Gregory says she's happy people in the Big Bend area are supporting one another so all students can have the right tools when classes start.

"Our schools are really hubs of their community," Gregory said. "During times like this, it's really important to leverage our community to help support our schools so that our students can achieve."

The center will be open to students beginning September 1.

Organizers say they'll hold another open house for the public with a pancake breakfast before that date. The center has also ordered robotics parts and will teach kids how to build robots.