April 10, 2003 – The donation of desktop and laptop computers for the community room at the George Simmonds Terrace Housing Community on St. John has received a warm welcome from the housing manager and volunteers who have kept the General Educational Development program running there since 2000.
"This is not for Simmonds alone. This is for all who can benefit from it," community property manager Sonia Sprauve said on Tuesday.
The new computers are the gift of Arthur Allen, a Florida businessman who learned of interest in enhancing the GED program from his St. John acquaintance and occasional tennis partner George Lewis. Program volunteers had asked Lewis if he knew anyone who could help them provide their students with needed technology support, Allen said on Tuesday, so Lewis passed the request on to him.
Allen is president and chief executive officer of ASG Software Solutions, a technology consulting firm that advises businesses on the best kinds of computer systems to meet their needs.
Allen and several of his ASG colleagues and St. John Administrator Julien Harley took part in a presentation ceremony on Tuesday.
GED instructor Alecia Wells said she was surprised at how quickly her wish was granted. Setting up the work stations, programming the computers and hooking up two laser jet printers was all done in an afternoon by John Heyliger, an Education Department technician who did the work as a volunteer.
Standing in a newly created computer room at the Simmonds community center, Wells said that students would be taking their first computer classes as early as next Monday.
Volunteer efforts and support from the St. John Community Foundation previously provided textbooks for the adults seeking their high school equivalency certificates. Wells said she feels that offering the GED program is important because it gives St. John residents living outside of Cruz Bay a chance to improve their quality of life.
Even before the new computers were set up, about 15 people had signed up to take advantage of the high-tech learning environment, Sprauve said. In addition to the GED classes, tutorials and computer classes are scheduled.
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