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Polis Report

Well-connected

By Dave Cassel

After thanking President Clinton for supporting NetDay '96 last Saturday, "he grabs my hand," remembers East Palo Alto teacher Michael Hooper, "and says, 'What's going on?' "

The answer was a high-profile campaign to increase the number of California schools wired for computers--a single day when 20,000 volunteers hooked classrooms to their libraries, other classrooms, and the Internet.

It was a hypefest, from start to finish.

At a Concord high school, the smell of dust drifted from ceiling panels in the hallway as people walked on the roof past electric drills, wearing "I connected our kids to the future" T-shirts.

The president's visit turned life at the quiet school upside down. Clinton and Gore installed a phone jack in Miss Styles' typing class, next door to the room used as the president's holding area. "You can tell somebody's been in there eating," confided one teacher. Across from a sign saying "Your mother isn't enrolled in this class, so clean up after yourself" were six empty Coke cans. And nothing left but half-eaten strawberries and some parsley on a plastic tray from Geneva's delicatessen marked "President."

At one point in the frenzy, Hooper found himself next to a high-level CEO who casually asked, "You play golf?'" Hooper told him no--but later found out the significance. The president was leaving for a round of golf in Orinda, and "it turns out they had someone who couldn't make it," he lamented that night. "I was, like ... 'Doh!' "

Alas, connections are everything.

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From the Mar. 14-20, 1996 issue of Metro

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