Local high schools embrace cell phones

Oct 29, 2012 by

Spanish teacher Marlea Bahantka hones in on a student as his index finger slides across an iPhone in her class. She stops next to his desk and looks down.

“How’s your phone working?” she asks. “Do you have the app on there? Even better.”

Bahantka is teaching a class at Brockport High School using iPhones and iPods. Students are reading a class blog online, and leaving comments — in Spanish — on the blog posts. Some students are using personal phones, while others have been given iPod Touches owned by the school.

The class is a significant shift from a few years ago, when teachers at most high schools would have seized a cell phone if a student pulled it out during class. Over the last few years, nearly every local high school has changed the rules, allowing students to use their phones in common areas such as cafeterias and hallways. And some districts are even encouraging teachers to integrate them into their lessons.

“Cell phones are a part of our everyday life,” said Joseph Fantigrossi, Fairport High School principal. “Trying to take away the availability of cell phones is a battle that is unnecessary.”

At Fairport, students aren’t allowed to have them out in classrooms unless a teacher gives explicit permission, but they can use them in the hallway and cafeteria during lunch. Most area high schools have a variation on that policy.

“We limit the anxiety of students by allowing them the opportunity during their passing times to make those contacts and to feel like they’re still connected,” Fantigrossi said. “It’s one of those issues where you can choose to try to stem the tide … or you can embrace the technology. We’ve chosen to embrace the technology.”

Local high schools embrace cell phones | Democrat and Chronicle | democratandchronicle.com.

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