NEW PALESTINE — Sitting on the floor in the hallway of the first-grade wing at Sugar Creek Elementary school, the young students were captivated by the New Palestine High School seniors wearing the funny Mexican hats.

Robert Rapier and Lyle Edwards, students from Angel Hughey’s high school Spanish class, donned sombreros while showing off the new Spanish book they created using the iPad.

It’s just one example of how the school’s one-to-one computing program is paying dividends for area students.

“That’s neat,” first-grader Ellie Armstrong said while watching the presentation.

It was part of a project that ended with Hughey’s students showing their finished book and sharing a new culture with the first-graders at Sugar Creek.

It was a new approach to a project for the class.

“Now that we have all this technology, this is the first time we have done it this way,” Hughey said.

The high school students, who were graded on their use of Spanish grammar as well as overall presentation, were tasked with writing a story in Spanish, then using the new technology to present it via an iPad.

“The kids love it and the teachers love it,” Hughey said.

Each book was made with a different theme, and the high school students wrote them specifically for first-graders.

Hughey made sure one group of students created a book on colors, while another made one about traveling through the jungle, among other things.

The technology also allows the first-graders to transfer the Spanish books to their own iPads.

Rapier and Edwards took an extra step to enthuse the young audience. They brought some instruments and played the “Mexican Hat Dance” to get the students fired up.

“We also did some fun artwork in our book,” Rapier said.

District technology integration specialist Amanda Hoagland said instructors’ iPads can be used to create all aspects of a project from illustrations to audio.

The students made the books on their Macbooks then downloaded the stories to the iPad for the presentation.

“It just all syncs together,” Hoagland said.

First-grade teacher Jay Lovell said the presentation was engaging for his students.

“They’re at the very beginning of their reading careers, so for them to be able to compare and contrast different cultures, that’s pretty neat,” he said. “It fits right in with our standards.”

Not only did the students learn about Spanish, they used technology and interpersonal relationship skills that will come in handy down the road, educators said.

“This is one of those win-win projects for everyone,” Hoagland said.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or