JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of students at a middle school in Jacksonville received a special surprise Wednesday afternoon.
There was a murmur of curiosity as more than 250 eighth-grade students at Ribault Middle School filed into a special assembly. The students had no idea why they had been called together.
Then, the students learned they were each receiving a free laptop.
Comcast and nonprofit organization City Year teamed up to support digital literacy and gender equity by giving the students gifts they can use throughout their school years.
Two U.S. Olympic gold medalist hockey players were guest speakers at the assembly. They showed the group videos of their success in the rink, took questions from the audience and gave students a pep talk about the importance of closing the gender gap in education.
"We've had to keep our grades up our whole lives," Jocelyn Lamoureaux-Davidson said. "So to be able to play any sport, we've had to succeed in school."
The laptops were given to the student to ensure they have access to a world of knowledge.
"We realize the importance of being able to use the internet," Monique Lamoureaux-Morando said.
With new laptops in hand, the kids said they're now excited about getting their homework done.
"I could do homework, help my little brother and sister with stuff if she needs it," student Chiyone Simmons said.
Students said the laptops will also make learning a lot easier.
"I won't have to wait on my mom to use the computer," student Kei-Myra Brooks said.
Through Comcast's "Internet Essentials" program, the company has also provided low-income veterans with a new computer lab at the transitional facility 5 Star Veterans Center in Jacksonville.