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Monessen students tap technology and horror

| Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2002

Monessen High School has adopted interactive learning in three new courses this year.

The high school reached an agreement with Peabody High School in Pittsburgh as a regional trainer for a computer training course provided by the Cisco Academy.

Since 1993, Cisco has worked to develop computer learning programs for schools.

At Monessen High School, students spend two 45-minute periods each day working in computer labs. The sessions comprise 90 days.

Class exercises and exams are taken via the Internet, and assignments are available online, teacher Leeanne Spazak said.

Students can access assignments at home if they are sick and can work ahead, Spazak said.

Eleven students enrolled in the inaugural class.

Spazak said the course leads to diverse understanding of computer networking, applications, installation and troubleshooting.

Students who complete the two-year program qualify for Cisco certification tests at half-cost.

Each student must score 70 percent to pass and become a certified Cisco certified network associate.

Through the training, students can leave high school qualified to handle jobs in the computer field, Spazak said.

Students also can further their educations in the discipline, Spazak said.

Students become eligible for the course as sophomores.

Marino said students should take an introductory computer applications classes as freshmen before entering the program.

Spazak said similar computer courses could become common in most high schools.

Another new course - the Computer Build Program -...has quickly become popular, Marino said.

Sixty students signed up for 15 slots, he said.

For an hour each day after school, students learn to build computers from scratch, and must perform 25 hours of community service to pass.

Marino said students can service computers in the high school to fulfill community service requirements.

The class provides hands-on experience that can benefit young people living in the contemporary computer age, the principal said.

Students from low- to moderate-income families can qualify to keep the computers they build. Other students can to buy the units for the cost of the components.

The Private Industry Council of Westmoreland-Fayette used a $7,500 grant to establish the program, Marino said.

Another experimental program is somewhat horrific.

Marino said a make-up and costume design exhibit offered by the Monessen-based Douglas Education Center led to the a class on motion picture design.

Participants will visit the Douglas Education Center for one hour a day, beginning in January, to study costumes, make-up and film production, Marino said.

Marino said the class is limited to juniors and seniors.

Six students have enrolled. Four slots remain, Marino said.

Marino said he has seen more strides in curriculum development this year than in any of his other nine years in charge of the high school.

"This school is a business," Marino said.

"It's a business of educating people. We were fortunate to have programs like this."

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