Program recycles, rebuilds old computers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS — Have an old computer sitting dormant at your house? Students from A.L. Brown High School want it.
In about 45 minutes, students from the school’s S.T.A.R.S. (Student Training and Recycling Service) program can dismantle and rebuild a working computer.
Walter Smith, a mentor with the program, said the group of three students has gained experience identifying which parts are salvageable and which ones are recyclable.
“We keep whatever we need and make sure the parts are in good working condition,” he said.
Seniors Brandon Payne and Brandon Brown, along with sophomore Jacob Clontz have met every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:45 to 5 p.m. since November at the New Piney Grove Outreach Center to try their hand at computer refurbishing.
Payne and Clontz, both computer engineering students, decided to participate in the program to grow their skills.
“It was a chance to learn more about computers,” Payne said. “So we jumped right on it.”
Clontz said working on computers is already a hobby for him, but it could be a career down the road.
“We’ve learned different stuff about computers like what to take apart, what to touch, what not to touch and basic assembly,” he said.
Brown said he got involved with the program because it seemed like a fun learning experience.
“I thought I would give it a try,” he said.
About nine community volunteers, including Smith, stepped in to work with the boys each week.
“I’m just coaching them along,” Smith said. “I learned everything I know (about computers) just by toying around and reading.”
Smith said he’s been impressed by the student engagement.
“They are eager and willing to learn,” he said. “They’ll be able to take this further in life.”
And not only are the students benefitting from the experience, they are also giving back to the community.
“The program has already recycled nearly two tons of computer components, safely disposed of 730 pounds of hazardous computer waste and refurbished 17 computers that will be donated to non-profits or sold at low cost,” Ellen Boyd, Kannapolis City Schools’ director of community relations, said.
Five of the donated computers went to the Cannon Memorial Y.
Rhoda Poppen, resource development director for the Y, said those computers will help jumpstart a computer lab.
“We are very appreciative of what they have done because they have taken us from zero resources to half the lab we needed,” she said. “It’s a big deal for us.”
Poppen said the goal is to eventually have 10 computers. The lab will be used by the after-school program as well as children and adults who are tutored through the Cabarrus Literacy Council.
“It’s really pretty cool because it’s a group of kids who are learning a vocation and the product that comes from that program in turn helps a group of students who are learning to read better,” Poppen said.
Computers can be donated to the S.T.A.R.S. program by contacting coordinator Nina Covington at 443-531-0927.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.