Middle School bans cell phone use before 9th

Benjamin Most

Middle school cell phone and technology policies are being reexamined at the beginning of the second year of the One-to-One laptop initiative, which the Upper School begins this year.

The laptop initiative mandates that all students bring a laptop to school, but Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish said that rules to ensure proper technology use may be necessary to prevent mobile gaming, online shopping and other distractions.

“I think when we went completely one-to-one on laptops, there was this explosion of technology on campus,” Wimbish said. “It turned out the majority of our students had smartphones, so it was more of a two-to-one ratio. We’re trying to figure out which of these devices should be used, what they should be used for, and how much they should be used for school purposes, communicating with parents and other effective uses of the technology versus the things that can be distracting and the things that can have a negative impact on the community.”

Middle school students will no longer be allowed to use cell phones on campus until ninth period unless they are using the phone for class with a teacher’s permission or using a phone in a dean’s office to communicate with a family member or coach.

“We’re trying to wrestle with the best way to communicate with students,” Wimbish said. “Probably the best way is through policy and rules, because that’s how things work in a middle school.”

However, Wimbish said the laptop initiative had “incredibly positive” results and allowed for a more interactive feedback process.

For example, in his English class, Wimbish returns students’ essays on Google Docs and the Hub with comments and gives them an opportunity to message him back with questions or explanations.

Middle school teachers attended technology workshops the last week of August to help promote the laptop initiative’s smooth transition to the Upper School.