Metropolitan Preparatory AcademyMetropolitan Preparatory Academy - Since 1982
Metropolitan Preparatory Academy

Computer Aid

The International Computer Aid Project provides students at Metro Prep with the opportunity to build/refurbish a set of 20-30 computers from scratch for implementation in impoverished schools in Third World countries. The Computer Aid Project allows students to have truly hands on experience with computer technology by doing something good for students in the world who are not as fortunate as themselves.


Project History

The International Computer Aid Project was founded in 2002, by Computer Science teacher Shannon Volman; “I wanted my students to have an exceptional Field Trip…but in the field of Computer Science that is challenging. The Computer Aid Project allows students to have truly hands on experience with computer technology by doing something good for students in the world who are not as fortunate as they are…a true eye opener to life”.

It has been an incredible journey and experience for the students who have been part of this project to date. None of which could have EVER happened without our generous sponsors. We can never thank them enough.

May 2003 San Pedro Town, Belize Central America
- Exploratory/Ground Work Trip

November 2003 San Pedro Town, Belize, Central America
- First Computer Lab Implementation

June 2005 Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
- Second Computer Lab Implementation

April 2007 San Pedro Town, Belize, Central America
- Third Computer Lab Implementation
- Future Site Exploration at Punta Gorda and Sartenja

March 2008 Nyeri Town, Kenya, East Africa
- Fourth Computer Lab Implementation

See Canada AM's report on the International Computer Aid Project.


May 2003 - Belize, Central America

In May 2003 the first team of students, Drew Eaton, Pavel Grigoriev, Nicholas Mailis Jonathan Shapiro, Daniel Varnus, went on an exploratory trip with their teacher/project coordinator Shannon Volman, Principal Wayne McKelvey and Outdoor Ed. Instructor Steve Garland to lay the ground work for the International Computer Aid Project.

Through extensive preliminary planning, the team arrived in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize to begin assessing whether or not San Pedro High School would be a suitable candidate as a sponsored school.

The majority of time in Belize was spent conducting research and meeting with various officials including: the Mayor of San Pedro Town, the Principal of the High School and the Federal Minister of Education at the Prime Minister’s Office in the capital Belmopan.

November 2003 - Belize, Central America

In November 2003, after months of preparation following the initial meeting; a new team of six students (Jesse Briant, James Boelen, Daniel Green, Jonathan Hirsh, Stephen Litvack and Sam McLean) traveled with Shannon Volman, Derek Christiansen (network Administrator from Paradigm Network Solutions) and Wayne McKelvey to implement the 20 donated/upgraded computer systems along with delivering a 400 page student created custom training manual.

The team worked through various unexpected challenges involving international shipments, fully wired the lab (an unexpected glitch) and spent a week training the teachers at the school (which was to be applied towards their teacher accreditation) . Federal Government officials visited the school during our teams visit and requested permission to implement the training manual country wide—stating “It was the best they had ever seen”.


June 2005 - Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

Having met with the Ambassador to Sri Lanka in May 2004…the year ahead proved to be one full of both triumphs and heartbreaks for both our team of students and the people of Sri Lanka. Due to Metro Prep’s, own personal connection to Sri Lanka through a staff member Mohan Fernando…extensive efforts and passion drove the efforts to implement a computer lab of 30 computers at Mohan’s old school St. Sebastian’s College in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.

The Computer Aid Team was divided into two components, the hardware and networking group and the software and training group. Each group had five students and a staff mentor.

Eden Chung, Ruben Freire, Adam Harding, Travis Narduzzi and Brandon Walkin were assigned to the hardware and networking group led by teacher and project coordinator Shannon Volman.The software and training group rounded out by Corinne Baruch, Erica Herschorn, Sam Lyons, Joe Shuchat and David Uram under the leadership of teacher Jacqueline Grisè.

The fundraising efforts of parents/students and the dedication of this team were tremendous—bringing in $38, 000. The network team did the majority of the preparation work in the fall of 2004 and shipped the computers on December 18th, 2004.

Unfortunately, as the world knows, Sri Lanka was devastated by a Tsunami on December 26th and the project was in jeopardy due to conditions in Sri Lanka and travel advisories issued by the Canadian Government. The computers arrived safely and were stored until a small team consisting of Jacqueline Grise, Eden Chung, Mohan Fernando and Derek Christensen (replacing Shannon who was on Maternity Leave and ensuring project success on location) arrived at the end of June to implement a successful lab and week long training session.

The team had an opportunity to travel and explored the beauty of Sri Lanka. Students witnessed the devastation of the Tsunami first hand. The student team from this year donated over $5000 that they had raised on their own (to offset their won travel expenses) to the people of these communities to assist them in re-building their lives.


April 2007 - Belize, Central America

In April 2007 the Computer Aid Project returned to San Pedro Town, Belize with a two part objective: to upgrade the original computer lab installation at San Pedro High School and to travel to rural areas of Belize to assess potential schools as project candidates in Sartenaja (North Belize) and Punta Gorda (South Belize).

Thirty new systems were installed for the San Pedro High School Jr. College and upgrades/repairs were applied to the previous lab installation of 2003. A small, but dedicated team of students working with Shannon Volman consisted of Troy Bergman, Marshall Black, Mitchell Freitag, Alex Shafran, Lorne Sigal, and Andrew Soknacki did quick upgrades, and advanced server set-up to meet with the skill level of the lab administrator/computer teacher on the sponsored schools end.

This years team was accompanied by a parent of one of the first teams and key contact to the BMO sponsorships…Helga Boelen. Jacqueline Grise, teacher at Metro Prep and Wayne McKelvey also accompanied this team.


June 2008 - Kenya, Africa

The International Computer Aid Project has rescheduled its implementation of a Computer Lab in Kenya for a June 22nd departure. The team will be delivering all care packages to the By Grace Orphanage and conducting teacher training and network setup at Ngaini Secondary School at the base of Mount Kenya for an 8 day period. Thanks to incredible support and sponsorships by our student and parents community, fundraising sits at $36,000....a mere $4000 from our goal!!!

This year’s student team consists of Gary Angelucci, Mitchell Barker, Cameron Bates, Corey Faibish, Emily Freidman, Mitchell Freitag, Zev More, and Taylor White.

Guided by Kensington Tours our team will travel to Africa firstly to implement a fully functional computer lab and training at the sponsored school located in the Nyeri District at the base of Mount Kenya in the Rift Valley.

In addition to setting up the computer lab the team will visit the By Grace Orphanage; a place where 250 children sleep in 8 tiny rooms shoulder-to-shoulder on little pieces of foam which are removed each morning in order to use those rooms as classrooms. The orphanage survives on a month to month basis due to the generosity of donations bestowed on them. In an effort to assist the By Grace Orphanage the school is working with Kensington Cares to help raise capital and awareness.

The team has a HUGE fundraising target of $40,000. Special thanks to our contact Dawn Rollocks at the Bank of Montreal who very graciously arranged for a donation of 40 computer systems.


Computer Aid Photos

Please check back for photos.