CALAIS, Maine — Christmas came early to the 265 students at Calais Elementary School on Thursday.
They marched into a school assembly where principal Peter Perkins announced their early present: Bangor Savings Bank donated 24 new laptop computers to the school.
Ten bank employees sat front and center before the students as Perkins made the announcement. The employees visited the school to deliver the computers and help get them up and running.
Besides the Toshiba laptop computers, valued at $7,400, the bank also donated another $900 in school supplies — including copy paper, construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, pencils and tape.
Existing computers in the school’s computer lab are 10 years old. They are so outdated that students cannot use them to take standardized achievement tests. However, the school will keep them because they still can be used for some tasks.
The new laptops will not be set up to remain stationary in the computer lab. Instead, they will be available on a cart so they can be wheeled into every classroom and be used by all students in grades one through six.
Perkins, who has worked at the school for 40 years, called it the “single biggest gift” to the elementary school.
“It is just amazing what you have done for the kids and this community,” Perkins told the delegation from the bank during the assembly.
He also thanked the bank for its gift of school supplies. “Did we need it?” asked Perkins rhetorically. “Yes.”
“It’s pretty darn special,” Keith Laser, superintendent of Calais schools, told the gathering in thanking the bank and its employees.
There are “so many great tools available” to schoolchildren, noted Laser, but they require the use of up-to-date computers and Internet service.
“The old computers are antiquated,” Perkins said later. “We’ve had numerous, numerous breakdowns.”
“We desperately are in need of technology,” added Laser. “Now we’ll have access to it. ” He also lauded the bank for sending staff to help get the laptops up and running.
“We certainly appreciate the leadership of the bank in making the decision to help out the Calais School Department,” said Laser.
“Bangor Savings is committed to being a good community partner,” said Carol Colson, the bank’s director of marketing and community relations. “When we learned of the dire need for new technology at the elementary school, we knew we could — and should — help. These students and their teachers deserve to have the latest technology and tools to get the best educational experience possible.”