(Editor’s note: This article and headline have been updated to reflect that the laptops donated to Belen Consolidated Schools are for students at Belen High School, not all students district wide as initially reported. There was a miscommunication between the reporter and the BHS principal.)
BELEN — One local business has stepped up to help students needing updated devices in the Belen Consolidated Schools.
When Hud Griffith and the rest of the employees at Valencia Power LLC, located south of the city of Rio Communities, heard schools statewide would be closed due to the COVID-19 virus, they knew they needed to do something to help locally.
This afternoon, Griffith and his co-worker, David Grega, delivered 106 brand new Windows 10 laptops to Belen High School.
“We went to the company and asked if we could do this; they immediately said yes. We were happy to do this. Hopefully we can be the spark for something bigger,” Griffith said.
The laptops, valued at $31,800, will be distributed to students in all grades at Belen High School, BHS Principal Lawrence Sanchez said. Once computers have been allocated to students at the high school, any extras will be shared with other schools in the district.
“When the schools were ordered closed, we gathered up all the devices we had in. Teachers made contact with their students and we compiled a list of students who needed devices and distributed what we had,” Sanchez said.
The new laptops will be lent to students who still need devices and those needing a bit of an upgrade.
“If you’re a student who has a 10-year-old tablet or a computer that just can’t keep up with online dual enrollment classes, one of these can help,” the principal said. “We have students out there trying to do everything on their phones.”
Sanchez said the laptops are available for all high school students to borrow at all grade levels, but there would be some priority given to seniors to make sure they were staying on the path to finishing high school.
“When (Valencia Power) told me they were doing this, I immediately emailed Superintendent (Diane) Vallejos and Mr. (Rodney) Wright (assistant superintendent of academics) to tell them. This is awesome,” he said. “We are hearing so much negativity right now, about people hoarding things and profiteering. And then we have this company step up that didn’t have to do it.”
The laptops should be ready for students by Thursday, April 9, Sanchez said, after the district’s IT department installs the necessary software.
Students in need of the devices should call BHS assistant principals David Jimenez or Rhonda Martinez at 966-1301 or 966-1302, respectively, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The devices will be distributed from the high school and parents will need to sign for them.