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Arizona High School Becomes First to Go Textbook Free, 100 Percent Wireless

In the United States, summer is coming to an end and that means American children will soon be returning to school. But students at one high school in the southwestern state of Arizona are in for a completely new learning experience. VOA's Crystal Park narrates.

Computers have begun playing a larger role in the education of many U.S. children. They use them to communicate with friends, to play games, and maybe even do research for an assignment. But one new school in Arizona is taking student use of computers to another level.

Empire High School will be textbook free. The entire curriculum will be on the Internet. All 340 students will have laptop computers to access their assignments and send their completed work to their teacher. The teachers can then grade the work online and send it back to the students. School officials believe the new learning format will increase students' interest.

Erin Mendivil, a teacher at Empire High School says the program shows promise. "I think it's perfect for kids," she says. "Especially since they are naturally attached to the computers."

Students are also excited about the changes. "I think it's better to have Internet sources because without it you're stuck in the past instead of up to date on stuff," says Danni Wise.

Officials have put safeguards in place to prevent students from viewing inappropriate material during class. There is also a web program in place to check for plagiarism and students copying from each other.

Each laptop costs the school $800. All the students' parents' paid $50 for insurance to cover their child's computer. Schools in states including Arkansas and Virginia have also experimented with being textbook free in recent years.