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FHS Tech Support class teaches valuable job skills

A few Ferndale High School students came to the library one afternoon with their laptops, hoping for some technical support. But it wasn’t adult staff members who assisted those students with their internet connectivity or laptop charger issues – FHS seniors Bobby Kamps and Jared Surber took charge. 

Bobby and Jared have taken tech support classes at FHS for more than three years, and they love helping their fellow students whenever problems arise with their school-issued laptops.  

“I enjoy being able to say, like if their charger’s broken, ‘Yeah, I can get this done in 10-20 minutes,’” Jared said. “Then, they can continue working on their homework.” 

Since the start of 2023, students in teacher Ilya Shportko’s program have fixed about 266 student computers. This semester, 64 students in four periods take Shportko’s tech support classes. 

The service is fairly simple: if a student’s laptop isn’t working properly, they can take it to the tech support window near the FHS library. There, a student will diagnose and fix the problem. For example, students commonly come in saying their laptop screen isn’t working. The tech support team will first remove the screen and the bevel (the plastic frame around the monitor) to figure out what isn’t working. Then, they’ll open their massive cabinet of replacement laptop parts and make the correct fix. 

For certain issues, like a broken hard drive or a malfunctioning operating system, the student laptop will have to be sent to the staff of Ferndale School District’s technology department. In those cases, students will immediately be given a replacement laptop while staff repair the other device. 

Shportko – an FHS graduate who has been teaching tech support at the school since 2020 – said this class provides invaluable career skills for a generation that will join a tech-dominated workforce. 

“Having students learn about IT, and provide that service, prepares them for the future – because the future is all-technology,” he said. “If you have a career, you’re going to be using a computer no matter what – even if you’re stocking shelves, you’ll be using a computer to identify how many items you have.” 

Jared said he started taking tech support classes because he’s naturally gifted at fixing things and wanted to extend that knowledge to technology. He enjoys the problem-solving aspect of this work. 

“I view it as a puzzle,” he said. “It’s really fun for me to find a problem and fix it.” 

Bobby said he joined the program because he was curious how computers work. 

“I wanted to know how to fix them, take them apart, and all that,” he said. “I enjoy working with my hands.” 

Bobby and Jared are both interested in pursuing careers in technology after graduating this summer. Bobby hopes to start his own technology repair business, and Jared plans to study computer science in college.