WHS Tech Crew

As with most groups this year, the Westlake High School Tech Crew has had to get creative to continue with their mission of helping others with all things tech.  In the past, the group of high school students, under the guidance of Westlake Librarian Mary Knopp, met in person on a bi-weekly basis to provide assistance to teachers, students and parents with things ranging from setting up a Google Classroom to helping with classroom technology. 

This year, with hybrid schooling and restrictions on group gatherings, the group of 15 students didn’t let the fact that they couldn’t meet in person slow them down.  It was a natural transition for these tech savvy teens to begin meeting virtually so they could lay out plans to continue offering their hugely popular services. They agreed that because of everyone’s expanded reliance on technology this year, it would be useful to create some How-to video tutorials.  Some of the videos created by the students include "How to Use the Parent Portal", "How to Connect to the School WiFi" and "How to Use the Google Classroom Calendar and To-Do Features".  Mrs. Knopp reports that  “these videos have been so helpful for students, parents and teachers.” 

One of the highlights of being part of the tech crew is working regularly with senior citizens to teach them how to use technology.  Since the initiative began five years ago, they have helped countless local seniors figure out their iPhones, iPads and PCs.  This year more than ever before, those skills have become essential to stay connected to family and friends.  Undeterred by the challenge of working with them virtually, the students sent out invitations offering their services for anyone that was interested.  They were pleasantly surprised at how well it went. Each senior citizen was matched with a student based on what application they needed help with and had 45 minutes of undivided attention. The Tech Crew students created follow-up video tutorials for the senior citizens so they can review what they learned during the session. 

Many seniors gave rave reviews of their time with the students. Theresa Westmoreland, a senior who enjoyed attending the sessions in person before Covid, remarked “I see it as connecting different generations in the community.  [It] feels like heaven to have a one-on-one with a student for almost an hour.” 

Martha Verrilli, whose daughter works in the middle school, was anxious to learn how to use group texting and how to share photos and videos so she could more easily communicate with her five grandchildren. The student she was paired up encouraged her to share her screen so he could walk her through step by step just as if he was in person with her.  “I have already recommended this program to my friends because many seniors need technology, especially now during Covid.”

Mrs. Knopp and the Tech Crew are thrilled that they can get back to doing what they love, sharing their knowledge with others, even if it isn’t exactly like it was before. Now that they know what is possible, there are sure to be more sessions in the near future.  If you would like more information about the Westlake High School Tech Crew, please contact Mary Knopp at mknopp@mtplcsd.org.