Local News

NetDay '96 is Net Gain for Schools

Posted October 27, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

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

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

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

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 children at Leesville hung a welcoming banner outside the school as a collective thank-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 could not have happened. BellSouth, Cisco Systems, GlaxoWellcome, Duke Power, GTE, Nortel and Fujitsu Network Communications were among the many companies providing know-how and whose employees volunteered to pull the wire.

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