At a time when budgetary constraints are making it impossible for area schools to make large purchases, Wayland–Cohocton Middle School recently installed a wireless computer lab worth about $48,000.


The district acquired its new lab absolutely free.

At a time when budgetary constraints are making it impossible for area schools to make large purchases, Wayland–Cohocton Middle School recently installed a wireless computer lab worth about $48,000.


The district acquired its new lab absolutely free.


A year ago, Anita Pragle, a teacher's aide, learned about a 21st Century Wireless Lab sweepstakes through a partnership between CDW-Government and Discovery Education. Rules allowed contestants to enter as often as they wanted, so Pragle did — every single day for about a month and a half via the internet. Out of 118,000 unique entries (or roughly 600,000 total entries for each school that entered more than once) from all 50 states, Wayland-Cohocton was one of three schools that won the grand prize.


“I didn’t believe it for a while,”?Pragle said, adding that she thought the phone call was some kind of hoax. But it wasn’t until Lynn Siciliano, head of the school’s technology department, who was also notified the school had won at the same time, told her that it was indeed for real, that she finally accepted it.


Pragle said the receipt of the new computer equipment is right on time. The school was down to four laptops in the computer lab and 13 computers in the library for students to use. It wasn’t uncommon for the library’s computers to be fully occupied, Pragle said. “Most of the time, we sent students away.”


To launch the new lab, representatives from?Discovery Education, CDW-G and Toshiba showed students and teachers how to use the new technology May 26. Pragle said the new system will be housed in the computer lab and be taken to classrooms on an as-needed basis. The whole lab can fit onto a cart and wheeled wherever it needs to go.


“That’s what makes it so nice,”?Pragle said.


In addition to the three grand-prize winning schools, 20 other schools won other equipment. In all, schools received more than $150,000 worth of technology equipment from the 2010 sweepstakes.


The contest is in its ninth year, and has awarded nearly 30 wireless labs to schools across the country. Each winner is chosen through a random drawing.