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Geneva Elementary School students have begun racking up accomplishments because of a gift from Geneva Steel.

A computer lab purchased with help from the steel company was opened Feb. 7 at the school, and Principal Wayne Crabb said his greatest hopes for the new facility are already being realized.One student, whose teacher said he'd never before completed an assignment, changed his ways when he began working on the computers. While he worked on the first lesson, a child next to him was on the second, which featured elaborate computer graphics. The student wanted to go on and experiment with the graphics but the system would not allow it until the first lesson was completed, so the boy finished in a hurry and has since become enthusiastic about his work.

"The lab will help put our achievement scores above the district average, specifically in math," Crabb said. "What really thrills me about the lab is that so many people have been involved in it. It wasn't just my dream."

Geneva Steel originally planned to donate $30,000 to the school for remodeling, but when Crabb learned WICAT Systems was willing to give the school the $111,000 lab at cost, he got an idea.

Geneva increased its donation to $34,000 and Crabb got a productivity grant from the state. The school district's Alpine Foundation donated the remaining money, paving the way for the school to build a lab unique in the district.

The facility is manned completely by volunteers, including nine mothers and 22 Mountain View High School students. They were trained by WICAT, and Crabb said many of them consider that beneficial, because the skills they've gained are marketable. That's why school administrators are optimistic that they'll never be short of volunteers to operate the lab.

The new facility is in use at night too, because it is being used for community education courses. Crabb said even some Geneva students are returning in the evening to continue working, and he expects to see results from that enthusiasm soon.

"Traditionally, Alpine District achievement test scores are above state and national averages in the lower elementary grades, but by the time the children reach the upper elementary grades, their scores drop in the area of language and math," he said. "The WICAT System has the reputation of providing accelerated learning, which should improve achievement test scores."