January 27, 2014 By KEVIN ALLENSPACH, MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE
Every weekday, a fleet of 20 buses ferries students to and from the Becker, Minn., elementary, middle and high schools. When they arrive at the curb, you can barely see a small object — about the size and color of a hockey puck — on the roof above the driver.
That device is part of a wireless communications system that, for some of the students anyway, makes it almost as if they never left the classroom.
Eighth-grader Mason Seeley and his brother, Parker, a sixth-grader, spend about an hour on the bus each way every day. They like to finish their school assignments on board so they have more free time when they get home.
Eighth-grader Erica Freeman said she recently used the Wi-Fi system to complete assignments on the way back from a field trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota. And eighth-grader Georgia Thom perhaps makes even more use of the system, since she’s often on a bus to and from activities.
“I’m on the dance team, and we had a meet at (St. Cloud) Cathedral the other night,” Thom said. “It helps when you have access to your assignments. I did a worksheet on the bus. Otherwise, I’d have had to wait until I got home to do it and that would’ve been about 10 o’clock.”