For the third year in a row, the Marco Island Academy Tech Club is giving back to the community by providing technology support to Marco Island residents, free of charge.
Teacher Kirby Rients leads the group of 15 tech-savvy students, grades 9 to 12. He tells us that the students do everything from “turning on an iPhone to complete system overrides and installing virus protection software.”
Community members can bringtheir technology problems to the school for a one- hour help session, if they need it. On a typical day, students assist with setting up smart phones, installing new programs on laptops, and answering questions about how to use Facebook and email.
The student’s technology assistance is not limited to iPhones and laptops. Mr. Rients tells us that two years ago a woman visited the Tech Club in her new car. She hadpurchased a number of upgrades, but was unable to make use of the new technology. The student synced her phone to the new car, connected the Bluetooth, taught her how to make a hands-free call, and set up her contacts on her cell phone to make the calls.
Mr. Rients explained that this unique outreach program allows the students the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with the general public. He saysit is a “way to include the community in what we have at MIA.” The club wants people in the community to know that the service is available to them, at “no cost.”
Off-season the students focus on getting the school’s computers and 75 iPads current and in good working order. Tasks include all the updates and software installation, setting up the school’s computers for standardized testing, and troubleshooting. Although the school receivesweekly computer maintenance from an outside company, the students fill in when problems arise.
Joey Politi, 11th grade, says he is in the club because “technology is such a big component in everyday life.” Max Rufatt, also a junior, says the Tech Club “helps so many people, both the people who come in, and the school.”
Many of the same students come back to the Tech Club each year, and new ones have beenquick to join. Only in its third year, the club has already tripled in size. Why do they come back? Tenth grader Vincent Piranio put it simply, “I liked it, and it was fun.”
The club meets every other Wednesday from 3:15-3:30 PM at Marco Island Academy, 2255 San Marco Road, room 106. The next meeting, which is open to the public, is Wednesday, October 28.
For more information on the MIA Tech Club, contact Mr. Kirby Rients at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-393-5133.