Tip O' the Horn
The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


Photo by Teddy Zitron
D'var Torah
March 15, 2024

HBHA to Reverse Technology Advancements

Its a shame
Richard Borlaza (left) cannot believe that Mr. Haas is okay with this initiative. Photo by Elana Goldenberg.

On Nov. 30, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) Director of Information Services Richard Borlaza made a life-changing announcement over the school intercom. After five years of formally integrating technology into the lower, middle, and upper school curriculums, HBHA will be abandoning all forms of digital technology. This includes but is not limited to Chromebooks, iPads, personal digital assistants (PDA), tablets, SMART Boards, and Internet access. These changes are due to take effect at the start of next semester.

No digi
No device is safe from this plan. Even old televisions will be seeing their death. Photo by Elana Goldenberg.

The decision to move away from such valuable modern amenities was not made lightly. Borlaza says that the new initiative, called Project Tech-No, has been endorsed by HBHA Headmaster Howard Haas for two main reasons, one being a lack of financial resources. Borlaza explains, “Ultimately, it’s just too expensive to replace constantly changing technology each week. In the last quarter alone, we’ve gone through 36 SMART Boards in the upper school to keep up with today’s standards. The thousands of dollars that have been spent on these devices would be better allocated to the Polo Shirts for Dress Code Violators Fund.”

The other reason for Project Tech-No is a desire to go back to the past. These feelings of nostalgia have been prompted by HBHA’s celebration of its 50th anniversary this year. Borlaza adds that he and HBHA administrators believe that “returning to the school’s roots will be a positive change.”

“Back before HBHA started incorporating technology into classrooms, the school environment was–and I say this with confidence as the IT [Information Technology] Director–far superior to what it is now. Students and teachers were happier, class periods weren’t spent waiting for a Wi-Fi signal, we had a baseball team, and meat lunches could be eaten three days a week. I am certain that eliminating technology will be the first step in truly emphasizing our school’s fundamental core values,” says Borlaza.

Sophomore Joe Porter hugs his computer tightly. This is the last time he
Sophomore Joe Porter hugs his computer tightly. This is the last time he’ll get to use it. Photo by Elana Goldenberg.

Since the announcement, HBHA has morphed into a state of mourning and complete emptiness. Sophomores have been seen wearing black and chanting “BYOD” in the hallways. Seventh grade students are wearing ripped phone chargers as necklaces. Some lower school classrooms are even getting recarpeted because “the students have been crying nonstop for weeks,” says fourth grade teacher Jenny Safir.

Adds Safir, “It’s unbelievable…the effect that this initiative has had on students already. We haven’t even implemented it yet! I’m afraid of what the future holds.”

HBHA senior and Tech Club President Jacob Katz is furious about the recent decision. Katz is beyond irate about the whole ordeal and “can’t believe that the administration would create such a regressive plan.”

“As a senior, Tech Club is the only reason I still come to school. While I don’t always finish my homework on-time, I always work hard during Tech Club. I don’t know what I’ll do next semester. Now that I can’t lead my beloved Super Smash Bros winterim, I’m seriously considering moving to Canada,” continues Katz.

Like Safir, Katz has also noticed the mayhem that has ensued. He comments that “the school hasn’t been in such disarray since [he] won the spelling bee.”

In order to give students and faculty the closure that they deserve in this difficult time, Borlaza, with the help of the administrative team, has organized a technology annihilation ceremony. Prior to winter break, the HBHA community will gather together at Sprint’s soccer field across the street. The program is set to include a feeling sharing hour (eulogies, poems, short stories, interpretive dances, etc.) before students throw all school-owned technologies into the Sprint Pond.

An anonymous third grader shared her poem
An anonymous third grader shared her poem that she plans to share at the technology annihilation ceremony. Poem shared with permission from Anonymous.

Students, teachers, parents, and donors have posed a plethora of questions surrounding this controversy. How will learning be affected? Can HBHA spend remaining technology funds on personalized HBHA blankets for each child? Will families be reimbursed for BYOD-related costs? Most importantly, what will happen to Richard Borlaza and the IT Department?

It’s a shame that digital technology is being eliminated at HBHA since Tech Club just bought new shirts! Photo by Elana Goldenberg.

To answer the last question, Borlaza has been offered the new and highly coveted Chief of Dress Code position, should he choose to accept. He’s still “weighing his other options.”

“I have applied for IT positions at Google and Yahoo, but I’m on interview waitlists for both [companies]. For now, I may just take a job at my favorite restaurant, Chipotle,” says Borlaza.

Although Project Tech-No is well intentioned, HBHA’s future looks dim. Hopefully, students and teachers alike will be able to adapt to a technology-free learning environment and find comfort in a school experience similar to that of those who came before them.

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