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Thousands of MacBooks en-route to students in southern U.S.

Nearly 8,000 Apple MacBook computers are currently being distributed to students in Louisiana and Kansas as part of new learning initiatives aimed at better preparing students for college and helping underprivileged children gain access to modern technology.

On Tuesday, the Kansas City school board launched the largest ever distribution of notebooks in the metro area, having agreed earlier this year to purchase Apple MacBooks for all of its 5,000 high school students to use at school and at home.

The project aims to better prepare students for higher education, as school officials believe that students who do not have access to computers at home will wind up far behind their peers by the time they get to college.

The school district paid Apple approximately $6.4 million for notebooks, which are equipped with software to prevent students from viewing pornography and come with several anti-theft measures already built in.

For instance, all the notebooks have stickers clearly identifying them as the property of the Kansas City, Kansas public school system. The stickers won't come off without virtually destroying the laptop, district officials say.

Should thieves find a way around the stickers, a GPS tracking device can be used to help locate the stolen computers. And if all else fails, district officials say they can also use a remote device to destroy the hard drive inside the notebooks.

Parents pay only a $25 insurance fee to lease the MacBooks, which are valued at $1,300 each. If parents can't afford it, students can work off the fee doing community service.

Meanwhile, Louisiana's Maplewood Middle School will be the first of 54 schools in the state to receive notebooks through the Turn On To Learning education initiative. Fifty students and four teachers at the school received nearly $70,000 worth of Apple technology last Wednesday.

The initiative aims to provide MacBooks to two classes of sixth-grade students in each school district in the state. Apple is said to have developed a "digital backpack" notebook package specifically for the program, which include MacBooks with wireless capabilities that allow them to be connected to overhead projectors.

In total, 3,530 students and 153 teachers in Louisiana will be receiving the notebooks and along with Apple software, which the state purchased from Apple for approximately $5 million. The state will also provide the same notebooks to district personnel, state colleges of education, and technical centers to provide a network of support.