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NetDay '96 is Net Gain for Schools

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RALEIGH — Logging on to the Internet moved closer toreality for North Carolina school children, thanks to thousands ofvolunteers who came out to run wires yesterday. An estimated 28,000people participated in NetDay '96 at all but a few of the state's 118public school systems.

Wake County reported the most participation, with approximately 1200volunteers wiring 99 of the county's 102 schools. Fifteen of thestate's systems were already wired.

Leesville Road Middle School in Raleigh was one school that waswired-up Saturday. Jeff Clayton, media center specialist, said 67 of hisclassroomsreceived wiring so that they can be connected to the Internet in thefuture.

The volunteers consisted of parents, business people, teachers,administrators, and National Guardsmen.

Some schools made the day festive, providing the wirers with bagels,coffee, orange juice and doughnuts before work got underway. The childrenat Leesville hung a welcoming banner outside the school as a collectivethank-you for the work.

Saturday's efforts were led by Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker and Explornet,Inc., a nonprofit organization that laid the groundwork.

Corporate sponsorship was extensive, and without it NetDay '96 couldnot have happened. BellSouth, Cisco Systems, GlaxoWellcome, Duke Power, GTE,Nortel and Fujitsu Network Communications were among the many companiesproviding know-how and whose employees volunteered to pull the wire.

Brad Phillips of Fujitsu said, "One of the biggest costs to gainingaccess to the Internet is wiring of the school itself. That's where thebig dollars come in, and that's where the biggest emphasis is being placedto defray the biggest costs. If we wire these schools...I think we'vetaken a great burden from the schools and the school systems."

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