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New Device Allows Student Seeking Medical Treatment to Virtually Attend Classes

A Central New York student battling cancer has to travel out of state for treatment but new technology is making it so she doesn't have to miss class, or her classmates.
A student at West Canada Valley High School is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The next step in her journey to beat the cancer is to undergo radiation therapy at a medical center in Boston. This will require high school junior Sydney McEvoy to miss about three weeks of school...well, sort of.
There is a new device that will make it virtually possible for Sydney to attend her classes from her hospital room in Boston. Sydney is the first student to try out a brand new virtual presence device, Sheldon.
She will control Sheldon just like a toy remote control car and this way Sydney gets to sit in on classes and interact with her teachers and friends.
"I think it's really cool and I’m excited that I’m the first one that gets to use it or try it out," said Sydney McEvoy.
Sydney was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in May. She's at the tail end of her treatment process but will have to miss weeks of school while in Boston getting radiation therapy, which is why her teachers came up with a possible solution.
"It’s like FaceTime, almost, so she'll have an iPad in Boston and she'll be able to drive Sheldon around and he'll be able to move around the classroom so it's like her being in the classroom with us," said Sydney’s Spanish teacher Leonora Foster.
Meet Sheldon. He's a virtual presence device that will allow Sydney to not only virtually attend her classes, but interact with her friends and classmates as well.
"It's pretty amazing we've been struggling trying to figure out how we were going to keep her associated with her class because she's going to miss up to three weeks so we were concerned, not so much about her homework but her interaction with other students," said Sydney’s father Shannon McEvoy.
"They can say hello to her and wish her well and it'll just keep her more connected to us," said Foster.
Teachers and staff say if Sheldon is successful with Sydney, he could be extremely useful for other students in the future.
"I’d much rather have all of my students in my classes than look and see a bunch of iPads or iPods out there but it is a good alternative to having them there,” says Jason Burke, Sydney’s Social Studies teacher.
"The goal is simply to hopefully make life a little bit easier for the student who's not going to be there and see if it's something we want to continue to try and do,” said Ryan Orilio, the technology coordinator at West Canada Valley Central Schools.
Sheldon costs about 25 hundred dollars and is being lent to the school by the Mohawk Regional Information Center; all the school had to do was secure the Wi-Fi sites.

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