Frankenstein is alive at Payson High School, and he lives in Bud Evans’ computer room. In this seemingly innocuous space, surrounded by articulate and interested young gentlemen, lie the guts of computers.
Motherboards, hard drives and casings rest in quiet wait, for it’s only when Evans’ eager computer acolytes connect the parts together that they start glittering and gurgling.
Frankenstein may have been a disaster, but a fresh start awaits the Igors of today.
Payson High School computer teacher Evans is teaching his students how to build computers and computer networks, skills that his students say are among the most useful learned in the onslaught of information known as high school.
The gang of boys — and it is all boys though they claim more girls are starting to take the class — sit enthralled around the magical machines known as computers that change so rapidly lay people can hardly keep pace.
Junior David Kanauer says this class is the most useful he has taken. “We’re only going to get more computers in society,” he said, sitting in front of a Dell machine that he mostly built.
Of building the computers, he says, “It’s not too hard. Basically if it fits in the slot, it works.”
“I find them a bit mysterious,” said junior Tevin Crabdree. Crabdree sleuths to answer his questions, only to develop more questions from the answers.
To guide the students on their search, Evans, an Air Force veteran, has taken what was once a software-based class and altered it to teach networking and hardware building.
Junior Jesse Hatch talks technology. “I take an old Windows 95 machine and make it run like clock work on XP. There’s a big difference between those systems.”
Hatch, who has built seven computers, says he sees the field as more than a career option. “It’s the driving force of the future,” Hatch said.
Evans and Hatch high-five as Hatch solves a computer problem in Evans’ main room. In another room, to the left, a pile of older machines sits on the side, their parts like organs waiting for transplant. Newer machines rest on desks, and students gather around, mesmerized by the technology.
“If the kids have any spare time, they’re in here. This is their passion,” Evans said.
Newer may be more interesting, but Evans says you have to know the past before you can devise the future.
A pre-1980s Macintosh sits at one end of the room, a seemingly ancient relic that has little use now save for its age.
“I would like to get a museum,” Evans said, to teach his students about technology’s origins. “These kids are on the leading edge of the next frontier,” he added.
Comprehensive network equipment is prohibitively expensive — $20,000 or $30,000 — so Evans improvises. On a wall in one of Evans’ rooms, students have drawn types of networks, and listed each network’s positives and negatives.
All students must first take the basic Internet and Computer Technology class — also known as IC3. Roughly 70 students are enrolled in three sections.
That class sets students up to take Computer Maintenance Fundamentals, and a Network+ Certified Technician class. After those classes, students can take a professional certification exam recognized by the computer industry.
Next year, juniors who have taken Evans’ prerequisite class could have the option of attending a concurrent enrollment program at Gila Community College. At the end of two years, students could earn an associate’s degree in Web design. Evans and other district officials are working to start that class.
Already, students can earn college credit through dual enrollment in information technology.
It is only appropriate, perhaps, for the builders of the next Frankenstein to construct their own education piece by piece, until it, too, takes on a life of its own.