Netbooks are gone, but I never forgot them

As I reflected on my years at STA, it has become apparent that I started my time here as a Lenovo ThinkPad and am graduating as a shiny and functioning Microsoft Surface.


by Julia Kerrigan, Editor-in-Chief

On May 19, a historic group of women will be stepping on to the stage of the Kansas City Music Hall to receive their hard-won diplomas — the last ever class to have used the Lenovo ThinkPad X130e during their time at STA. Few might remember their bulky exterior and matte display, but it will forever be a part of my high school experience. PCWorld said it best when it described the device as “a solid little laptop with a can-do attitude,” which is probably the kindest way they could say that it is one of the most inefficient devices that money can buy. In many ways, freshman Julia was a lot like that little “netbook.”


It would be too easy to condemn the person I was freshman year as embarrassing or cringe-worthy, but I really was just like that low-tech laptop I chucked into the backseat of my sister’s car every morning. Probably the most obvious comparison is that I lost power quickly. My first day at STA, I came home and promptly passed out for a two-hour nap. My policy used to be “if my laptop needs a charge, then so must I!”


Can you see how flawed this logic is? My netbook barely made it through a morning of classes, and neither could I. The hardware itself was a problem, too. Mine had a frustrating habit of sticking shut and being impossible to open up. The same could be said for my attempts to make friends.


But once you opened that netbook up, man, was that keyboard irritating. Its clicks and clacks could practically be heard from one floor above the old library on the second floor of Donnelly (may it rest in peace). The freshmen I was initially apprehensive to talk to soon found that I had similarly unavoidably chattery tendencies, like word-vomiting everything that happened to me during a 15 minute trip to the pharmacy or singing every part of “One Day More,” the iconic ensemble piece from “Les Misérables.”


The whole premise of the ThinkPad, and to that extent, of myself freshman year, was that it was incredibly awkward and unwieldy. Pulling up simple information seemed to take ages. Without the courtesy of a warning, it often decided to crash multiple times over the course of the day. I spent the week before my freshman year watching YouTube tutorials on the ins and outs of the ThinkPad, as if I could give myself some upper hand. All I wanted was to be able to dive into school knowing anything and everything I could, but I soon learned that high school was going to be all about not knowing for a while.


The summer before my sophomore year, I spent about a week with science teacher Renee Blake and Network Administrator Jeff Zimmerman unboxing the Microsoft Surface Pros. All of the student volunteers felt like we were stepping into some brave new world. Gone were the days of glitchy trackpads the touch-screen was here to stay.


This new era of tech has left behind some similar quirks and has grown along with me as a student. The keyboard might be quieter, but the case around it requires a resounding crank to open the kickstand. And I, like my laptop, am still prone to exuberant outbursts before hunkering down to work. But this laptop has helped me through some of my hardest Calculus assignments with its myriad of pen options and stuck with me during the most ambitious 120 page OneNote print jobs. If my netbook saw me today, it would be so proud that it would probably just force-quit.


My laptop, whether it has been a glorified brick or a well-running machine, has been my constant companion throughout high school. Soon I’ll have to brave the aisles of Costco and make a new laptop selection to take with me to college. And what will happen if it glitches when I’m there? Who will I take it to, if not JZ?


All I know is that if the trend of upgrading from a ThinkPad to a Surface Pro continues into the future, life moving forward from STA holds nothing but greatness.