Beaver County Students Visit England for and Hour

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Beaver County Students Visit England for an Hour

Bell Atlantic Inaugurates County-Wide Distance Learning
Network; World of Learning Opportunities Opened to
Rural Students

September 30, 1998


Sharon Shaffer,
215-963-6200 or 412-633-5574
Harry Mitchell,
Dave Kamp,

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. -- Students from three Beaver County high schools and
noted actor James Earl Jones "hopped the pond" this morning to London -
and they didn't even get jet lag.

The students, from the Aliquippa, Midland and Monaca school districts,
traded thoughts on their favorite music and foods with students from King
Edward VII School in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, outside London.
The virtual class also questioned Jones about his distinguished acting

This electronic cultural exchange marked the debut of a video distance
learning network established through the Beaver County Excellence
Academy, a partnership among the three schools, the Community College
of Beaver County, Bell Atlantic and VTEL Corp.

"We've all heard about the futuristic things that technology will bring --
how it will improve the quality of our lives," said Jones, world-renowned
actor and Bell Atlantic spokesperson. "Well, the future can be found right
here today in Beaver County."

The Beaver County Excellence Academy, whose initial funding of
$100,000 was provided by Bell Atlantic, gives students at these three rural
high schools opportunities to increase their academic achievement levels
through advanced placement courses in social studies and science.

The Excellence Academy is one of numerous educational programs
throughout Pennsylvania that use telecommunications technology. "Bell
Atlantic is keeping its promise to make advanced telecommunications
services such as distance learning available throughout our service area,
from large cities to rural communities such as Aliquippa and Beaver
County," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic -
Pennsylvania. "It's marvelous to witness the powerful role technology can
play in enhancing the learning experience."

The schools are served by a state-of-the-art Bell Atlantic
telecommunications network that connects three ISDN (Integrated
Services Digital Network) lines from each school to a hub at the
Community College of Beaver County. Videoconferencing equipment
from VTEL allows the students to talk with teachers and students at other
locations as if they were in the same room.

"As a recognized leader in distance learning, VTEL is pleased to provide
the opportunity for Beaver County high school students to interact with
one of the world's greatest actors and students around the world," said
Jerry S. Benson, VTEL president and chief executive officer. "The power
of digital technology brings individuals and groups from anywhere in the
world together, making even the impossible possible."

"The distance learning network will offer challenging new learning
opportunities to our students," said William DiBenedetto, superintendent
of the Aliquippa school district. "We're excited about integrating this high-
tech resource into our curriculum."

The Beaver County Excellence Academy currently offers students in the
three county school districts advanced-placement courses in social studies
using the distance learning network.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than
seven million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest
investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations
and investments in 23 countries.

VTEL Corporation is the world's largest developer and manufacturer of
digital visual communications technology. The company is committed to
expanding its leadership position by providing the world's most innovative
video networking software, service and systems. VTEL's cutting-edge
products bring visual communications from the desktop to the boardroom,
incorporating data networks and the Internet. With headquarters in the
United States, Europe and Asia, the company distributes products through
value-added resellers and partners in 61 countries. VTEL's digital
communications products are deployed in the most advanced corporations,
healthcare facilities, educational institutions and government operations
around the globe.

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