The Metropolitan Transit System on Tuesday announced the 40 winners of the annual MTS and Reyes Coca-Cola Laptop Scholarship Essay Contest, which awards top-scoring students with new laptop computers.
The winning students, from 33 different high schools in San Diego County, were awarded a Lenovo Ideapad 3.
The laptops are coming at a crucial time for students who've already been working through issues with technology at home for more than a year due to the pandemic. Students shared stories about the struggles of distance learning, including borrowing or sharing laptops, old laptops not working and challenging Wi-Fi connections.
"It's been a very challenging year for these students," said Nathan Fletcher, MTS board chair and chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. "They all faced an unprecedented learning experience. I am very proud of them. It is encouraging to see that this up-and-coming generation has a lot of talent, resolve and perseverance."
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High school students were asked to explore PRONTO, the new fare collection system MTS passengers will begin using this summer, and write about how its new capabilities will help improve access to transit in San Diego.
"We are very excited for students and all of our passengers to begin using PRONTO this summer, and the essays reflected that excitement," said Mary Casillas Salas, an MTS board member and mayor of Chula Vista.
Features of PRONTO include fare-capping, instant money deposit, multi-card family options and online balance tracking.
"The last year has shown very clearly the impact technology can have on students' access to education," said Paul Gothold, San Diego County's superintendent of schools. "And while many students have returned to school campuses, they still need computers."
The laptop scholarship essay contest is a longstanding event partnership between MTS, Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling Company and the San Diego County Office of Education. To be eligible to win, students had to be San Diego County residents and enrolled in a San Diego County high school.
A full list of the winners can be found here.