When students or staff at Kachemak Selo or Razdolna schools log on to the Internet next school year, their route to the World Wide Web will go from the schools at the head of Kachemak Bay, across the water to Homer Electric Association's Bradley Lake power station, back across the bay to nearby Voznesenka School, and continue on to cyberspace from there.
Even with the pinball route, the connection will be significantly faster than the schools had before, thanks to a new wireless Wide Area Network connection into the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District network.
With the district becoming increasingly technologically advanced and integrating more and more computerized systems into how it does business, having schools with a connection speed little better than dial-up was a serious detriment to students and staff.
Logging on to the Internet at Razdolna or Kachemak Selo has been an exercise in patience, not advanced technology. With 56-K circuits connecting the schools to the Internet, trying to load a page involved clicking on a link, then finding something else to do while the page attempted to load. Having multiple people on the Web at once trying to do research or participate in a distance education course simply was not feasible.
The slow speed also hampered administrative tasks, such as e-mail, bookkeeping, accessing and updating student information and recording grades.
With the new WAN system up and running, the schools will have immediate access to the Internet and all the educational benefits it can provide. The new system works by connecting the smaller schools to Voznesenka, which has a higher-capacity T-1 circuit, capable of a 1.4 megabites connection speed. To do so, district information services personnel installed antennas at Razdolna, Kachemak Selo and Voznesenka.
The antennas operate on a line on sight. Since the three schools are located in different directions and at different elevations, they couldn't directly "see" each other. But there is one spot all three locations face - the HEA Bradley Lake hydroelectric facility on the other side of Kachemak Bay. HEA allowed three antennas, one for each school, to be set up at Bradley Lake to connect the three schools so they could all access Voznesenka's faster T-1 line.
Installation began in February and finished up in May. With the project complete, when students and staff head back to school in the fall, it will be to a whole new World Wide Web.
Jenny Neyman is the communication specialist with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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