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West Michigan high school grad saves school thousands in tech needs

Posted at 5:23 AM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 07:14:14-04

SPARTA, Mich. — It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “kids nowadays,” followed by a negative comment.

Paul Owens, who has been teaching computer at Sparta High School for 34 years, isn’t a fan of that phrase.

“I get a little bit weary of people who say, ‘Well, you know, kids nowadays. Kids nowadays are this, or that…’" Owens sayS. "I want to tell you, the kids nowadays are awesome! And Evan is an example of that.”

Owens is talking about Evan Grahs, a recent graduate from Sparta High School and a tech wiz.

“I think he's saved the school district thousands and thousands of dollars,” says Owens.

Between $20,000 and $30,000 in technology needs, to be exact.

Evan accomplished this feat during his four years in high school. So, how did a high school student manage to make this large of an impact?

As a freshman, Evan used a Raspberry PI System to create widescreen announcements for his school. Owens tells us this would typically cost a tremendous amount of money for the school to do.

Evan did it for under $150.

“I put something together with the extra time I had in class, and that's really what kind of began getting me deeper into doing computer stuff for Sparta,” says Evan.

“Then he was on fire!” exclaims Owens.

Evan went on to create live streaming for the scoreboard in the school gym, help form a media production class at Sparta High School, and shoot drone footage for district construction projects.

But perhaps most impressive? Evan’s character.

“One of the things that I'm most excited about is just who he is as a person,” says Owens. “No matter who he's talking to, no matter what a person's question is, he always returns in a kind, humble way. And that's astounding.”

Humble. And brilliant.

“Technology for the sake of technology is a lot of fun," Evan shares with us. "But if you find something useful, you can get people interested in it that who normally wouldn't fund something like that.”

Evan is attending Michigan Technological University this fall.

He’ll be moving on, but his example and impact at Sparta High School will last for years to come.

“He's the best of the best of kids nowadays,” says Owens. “Our future bright, it isn't dim. It isn't. There should be no despair. This next generation has got it.”