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St. Petersburg’s Academy Prep gives all their students free Chromebooks

The students will need them for their first semester, which will be virtual. They can keep the computers after they graduate.
Academy Prep students during class before the pandemic forced classes to go online only. Local philanthropists Trevor Burgess and Gary Hess made a gift of Chromebooks to all 140 students just before their virtual first semester.
Academy Prep students during class before the pandemic forced classes to go online only. Local philanthropists Trevor Burgess and Gary Hess made a gift of Chromebooks to all 140 students just before their virtual first semester. [ Courtesy of Academy Prep ]
Published Jul. 21, 2020
Updated Aug. 3, 2020

Academy Prep, the college preparatory middle school in south St. Petersburg, can continue its mission to provide need-based scholarships for a rigorous educational program even during the pandemic, thanks to the gift of Chromebooks for every student from local philanthropists.

In a news release, the school announced that Trevor Burgess and Gary Hess made the donation of the computers and carrying cases. It said that the pair have taken an active role in “finding solutions to benefit our marginalized communities.”

The donation comes just before the next semester starts. The school decided it will be fully virtual for its first semester. The students will be able to keep the laptops even after graduation.

Burgess and Hess made the following joint statement in the news release:

“Our family is focused on making sure that all members of our community can learn and thrive. By helping the technology needs of over 140 exceptional students at Academy Prep, we hope that we can make distance learning during the Pandemic as productive as possible. We all wish that we could do more and know that we can do no less.”

Keeping the students connected is critical to the school’s curriculum. Before the pandemic, students attended the school up to 11 hours a day, six days a week and 11 months a year on scholarships provided by the community. Support services continue after graduation through high school and college.

“Trevor and Gary have enabled us to transition from using older equipment signed out to a select few to now providing all our students with new systems that will cultivate a more robust and consistent virtual learning format,” Gina Tanase Burkett, head of school of Academy Prep of St. Petersburg, said in the release. “Our scholars will be given the specific tools and resources they need to be successful during these challenging times. We are so grateful to Trevor and Gary for seeing the value of investing in our Academy Prep students.”

To make a contribution or to learn more about Academy Prep, contact Lacey Nash Miller, development director, at (727) 322-0800, ext. 2109, or lnashmiller@academyprep.org, or visit academyprep.org/stpete/.