School tech team battles with student access to online games

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Liam McCamish

BY LIAM MCCAMISH (´20)

Every day junior Tate Smith would take a short break and play Town of Salem to relax for a little.  The school’s tech team, STAR, looked at it a different way. One day Smith logged on and found out the game had been blocked.

STAR is in a constant battle with the student body to keep up with blocking non-educational websites such as Town of Salem, 2048 and Shellshock.

In 2016, the district distributed Chromebooks to every student. For STAR, this meant trying to block every website that is non-educational. This started an all-out cyberwar, with students always trying to find new ways to bypass the school’s system.

Video games and social media may sound like an easy thing to remove from these computers. However, with all the ways students can sneak around the system, and all new websites for games coming up, it’s not as easy as it sounds to keep students focused in class.

¨The Chromebooks we use are paid for by the people of Granville so it is very important to us that the student body is appropriately using them. ¨ said Application Coordinator Evan McCullough, who supervises the STAR program

But it also gets more complicated for the student staff members. A STAR staff member who wished to remain anonymous said there is a struggle of being a student, who sometimes wants to play games, while also being a member of the staff team.

¨There are some members of STAR who take it way too seriously,” he said. ¨I was playing a game on my Chromebook during a study hall, and another member of STAR told me that next period he was gonna get it blocked. It´s just silly.¨

Not only do incidents like this happen once and a while, but students also try to get good with some STAR members to try and get certain websites unblocked.

¨I remember this one kid turning around in class and freaking out like, ‘HEY! You need to tell Mr. McCullough to unblock ShellShock and Town Of Salem,¨ one staff member said.¨ I was like, “Dude, I can´t do that’ and he said, ‘Just do it!” So it gets a little weird sometimes.¨ 

McCullough acknowledges that student staffers often find themselves in awkward positions.

¨We try not to make our students the villains, however, if we do ask them a question about students using a specific site, we expect them to be honest with us,¨ McCullough said.

It is a game of back forth that the STAR team and the student body will probably have for as long as the internet is around.