2018 Recap and New Horizons

On New Years Day, the New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic close encounter with Ultima Thule, a small minor planet a billion miles beyond the orbit of Pluto. The spacecraft left Earth in January 2006, the same year our current high school seniors started kindergarten! Back then, we could rent a movie from Blockbuster, but we couldn’t check Twitter or play our favorite tunes on Spotify. They didn’t exist yet, or Android or iOS, although we had a fancy IBM AS/400 in the district office.

With 2018 compiled and shipped, let’s recap a few Penn Manor technology projects and programs. Highlights from the past year include:

  • Expanded the 1:1 laptop program to all students in grades 5 and 6, and launched a pilot laptop program in fourth grade.
  • Implemented two-factor authentication on all staff GSuite accounts
  • Migrated to a new web content filter from Securly
  • Ahead of building construction, installed a new fiber optic circuit between Penn Manor High School and Millersville University
  • Increased district Internet bandwidth to 5Gbs via KINBER
  • Completed the paperless student records scanning project
  • Reorganized the data services and student help services teams
  • Welcomed new staff: Diana Entrekin, Bria Van Cleve, Stephanie Svolto-Patterson, Brielle Bitts, and Jarrod Claar.

Exemplary student technology projects were all around us in 2018. Penn Manor High School student-generated VR tours took center stage as part of the Google Tour Creator product launch. And at the Central PA Open Source Conference, five high school help desk apprentices shared their innovative work with software-defined radio, a ROS powered self-driving robot, and live video streaming with OBS Studio.

During the past year, more and more elementary students discovered the joy of programming with Scratch. We plan to expand the number of classroom computer science opportunities in the next 12 months. Scratch 3.0, due today, will be a big part of that plan. We can’t wait to see the fantastic code creations our students will unleash!

A few other new projects on our horizon include a full one-to-one student laptop implementation in grade 4, a migration of our student device inventory to Snipe-IT, and a planned upgrade of high school teacher laptops. Speaking of the high school, phase one of the anticipated construction and renovation project begins soon. Welcome, 2019!