Middle Schools Of The Year: Wired For The Future

RUNNER-UP Towns Middle School/Hiawassee, Ga. On their laptops, rural kids explore faraway volcanoes, learn math formulas and turn in homework too

On the northern edge of Georgia, where the Hiawassee River rushes out of the Smoky Mountains, natural beauty keeps close company with human poverty. A winding, hour-long drive from the nearest interstate highway, Towns County is one of Georgia's poorest and most isolated localities, where the average annual wage is $19,656, and 38% of schoolkids qualify for a subsidized lunch. Yet the county also boasts one of the best-wired middle schools in the U.S.

As yellow buses deposit their passengers at the Towns County Comprehensive School, serving students in pre-K through grade 12, you can instantly tell which are the middle...

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