The first day of school is pretty much the same in any district, but incoming Maine Township High School District 207 freshman and sophomore students have a treat in store this year.
The students are required to purchase Google Chromebook laptops from the district as part of a new program that eventually will eliminate the need for physical textbooks in the classroom.
The program will be implemented at the district's three high schools -- Maine West, Maine East and Maine South -- where classes began Monday.
With the computers, students can access educational resources online, use YouTube as a tool and create and edit their own videos. Each Chromebook is equipped with a graphing calculator similar to what students currently use in the classroom. Most classroom work will be done with Google Docs, through which students can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and share files on the Internet.
Teachers also will be able to use Google Docs to create homework assignments and quizzes, and keep track of students' work.
In February, the District 207 school board approved the purchase of 3,350 Chromebooks for the 2013-2014 academic year at a cost of just over $1 million.