Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Education

Student interns spend summer repairing computers at Brooksville business

BROOKSVILLE — On a recent hot afternoon, Tucker Hollenbeck and Antonio Romaelle huddled over a picture of an Ethernet cable.

The high school students have spent past summers like many teenagers do — hanging out with friends, watching TV, dreading the imminent return to school.

But this summer, they've had a different opportunity for the three-month break: an internship where they learned how to build and refurbish electronics. The internship is part of the Computers for Kids program, which began at the end of the school year in a partnership between Communities in Schools, a dropout prevention program, and James Tomasello, the owner of Computer Corrections, a local electronics repair shop.

Residents can bring in old computers to be refurbished and given to Hernando County schools or students in need. Under the supervision of Tomasello, students like Hollenbeck and Romaelle, both 15 and students at Springstead High School, repair the computers.

During a recent session at Computer Corrections, the two boys, along with Matt Haddadin, a third Springstead student, listened to a presentation.

"Now, look at this," said Joe Granda, a friend of Tomasello's who owns a cable installation business called Granda Communications. The students watched as Granda held up the frayed ends of a glass fiber optic cable.

"Thinner than strands of hair," he said.

Their eyes widened.

The boys said they've always been interested in electronics and how they work. Haddadin and Hollenbeck were the first two to sign up for the unpaid internship program. Romaelle said he recently built his own gaming computer, using unreliable do-it-yourself YouTube videos to show him how. He said he feels more confident in his skills because of the internship.

"I know more now than I ever did," Romaelle said.

For Tomasello, the program has been just as rewarding.

"It's kind of exhilarating because they're very eager to learn," he said. "They just grasp the concepts and run with them."

So far, residents have donated about 90 computers, Tomasello said. Of those, roughly 30 contained all of the parts needed to function, and about 15 have been refurbished and given back to people for use. Tomasello has saved parts from the other computers so they can be reused in the future.

Even though the internship program ends when school starts next week, Tomasello said he's still taking donations at the shop and three other dropoff locations around the county — StoreRight Self Storage and Print Shack in Brooksville and All Tire & Wheel in Spring Hill.

Tomasello plans to bring back the internship program next summer. He hopes to invite more speakers from the computer and electronics industry, like Granda.

Back at the shop, after Granda finished explaining how a cable works, he gave the boys a chance to build their own.

Romaelle finished his and plugged it into a detector used to test its functionality. He, Hollenbeck and Haddadin leaned over the machine, waiting for the results.

Beep. The connection went through.

"Wow," Romaelle said, smiling. "It works."

 
Comments
Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

The massive education measure known as House Bill 7055 has received plenty of attention during the legislative session, with its emphasis on decertifying teachers’ unions and using state-backed scholarship programs to steer kids away from public scho...
Published: 02/20/18

Pasco sixth-graders might get to play school sports

Pasco County middle schools are making plans to allow sixth-graders to participate on sports teams next year for the first time.District athletic director Matt Wicks plans to bring a policy revision proposal to the School Board in the next few months...
Published: 02/20/18
50 years ago, Florida teachers walked off their jobs. Today’s union leaders are inspired

50 years ago, Florida teachers walked off their jobs. Today’s union leaders are inspired

Ulysses Floyd remembers February 1968 all too well.Teachers by the thousands walked off their jobs across Florida. Among their concerns: low pay, poor funding, a lack of planning time, missing materials, and more. "We were at the mercy of the School ...
Published: 02/19/18
ROTC leader shocked that accused school shooter 1 of his own

ROTC leader shocked that accused school shooter 1 of his own

PARKLAND, Fla. — The sound of gunfire still ringing in his ears after his mad half-mile sprint, Jack Ciaramello was standing with friends in a grocery store parking lot when a sheriff’s deputy approached. He asked the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High se...
Published: 02/18/18
From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

Some teachers left goodbye messages to their students on classroom blackboards. Others cleared their desks.It was Feb. 16, 1968, a Friday, and a sign of what was coming that Monday in Florida: the nation’s first statewide teachers strike.When schools...
Published: 02/18/18
Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High principal Ty Thompson exuded deep emotion and a positive view forward in his first public comments since Wednesday’s mass shooting that killed 17 people.In the two-minute video posted on the school’s website and YouTube,...
Published: 02/18/18
Hillsborough rethinks its strategy for struggling schools

Hillsborough rethinks its strategy for struggling schools

TAMPA — "Elevate," a Hillsborough County School District initiative that was to focus on seven troubled schools and use them as models for dozens more, is becoming but a memory as the district seeks instead to support all schools equally."We’re more ...
Published: 02/17/18
Plant High students commemorate Parkland victims with sidewalk messages

Plant High students commemorate Parkland victims with sidewalk messages

TAMPA — Students at Plant High School honored the victims of the Parkland school shooting with a series of sidewalk chalk messages.The chalk art carried a series of messages such as "How many times?" and "Do something. Protect us." according to a Fac...
Published: 02/16/18
At public schools in Tampa Bay, a day to mourn, assess and reinforce

At public schools in Tampa Bay, a day to mourn, assess and reinforce

While fielding calls from anxious parents after the Broward County high school shooting that claimed 17 lives, school officials in the Tampa Bay area took a close look Thursday at what they are doing to keep students safe.There are gates and locks an...
Published: 02/15/18
Joe Henderson: April Griffin won’t run again for school board. She says she means it this time.

Joe Henderson: April Griffin won’t run again for school board. She says she means it this time.

Assuming April Griffin follows through on her decision not to seek re-election to the Hillsborough County School Board, well, meetings just won’t be the same. Chances are they’ll just be filled with boring reports, proclamations and routine business....
Published: 02/15/18