This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Several students and faculty members from Paul Robeson High School traveled to the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday to pick up a much-needed donation of computer equipment.
Penn donated about 90 computers to the West Philadelphia school, mostly Dells and a few Macs, as well as hard drives, monitors, and projectors. The new equipment will replace the school’s older fleet of computers, which are running outdated versions of operating systems, like Windows XP, Windows 2000, or open-source freeware.
After reviewing what was left of Robeson’s “ancient and crazy” technology, Andrew Saltz, an English teacher, reached out to hundreds of city businesses about making donations, ultimately making contact with an IT support specialist at Penn who was able to help.
“The classrooms were essentially dead,” Saltz said. “We were making use of what we have, but it isn’t enough.”
Robeson principal Richard Gordon said the school received the donation because of its involvement in the university’s High School Pipeline Program. It allows top-performing juniors and seniors to take classes at Community College of Philadelphia and Peirce College for college credit and pairs the students with internship programs within Penn’s medical network.
The goal of the pipeline program is not only to get high-performing students fully enrolled in college as second-semester freshmen, but also to spur career interests in medical professions.
Caplealeisha Moodie, a senior, said the program provides her with exposure necessary to getting her nursing degree, which she plans to pursue before applying to law school to become a medical lawyer.
“It’s something to know that what someone does on a daily basis could possibly be your life,” said Moodie.
Gordon said the donation is an opportunity to reinforce current programs at the school while also helping it develop into the future. By integrating the new technology into classrooms, he said, he aims to increase literacy rates among students and eventually create an all-academy health program, which would provide similar opportunities as the pipeline program to all students.
“We’re one of the most overlooked schools, but we’re building one of the most successful programs,” Gordon said.
Saltz added, “Hopefully, some day, we won’t have to beg for this stuff.”
Payne Schroeder is an intern at the Notebook.