John Traaseth

New Richmond High School freshman John Traaseth sits surrounded by donated items from Teo Baloiu of Razer USA. photo by Eva Stone / New Richmond teacher

NEW RICHMOND -- Like many high school students, John Traaseth has a special interest in gaming. Upon his introduction to the New Richmond High School this year, teacher Eva Groth reports, “John’s first question his freshman year was, ‘Can I join the Computer Club?’”  

Without reservation she responded, “Sure, let’s figure out a way to make it happen.”  

With the support of Computer Applications/Computer Club teacher Trent Bennig and paraprofessional Tammy Anderson, John joined the Computer Club in the fall of 2020.  

Staff quickly realized that despite John’s inability to use his right hand, he adapted; this setback would not stop him from pursuing his passions. 

John’s favorite system to play on is the Nintendo Switch as he is able to maneuver the controller with one hand fairly well. It became clear to staff and peers that John thrives with technology. 

Through teacher collaboration, John was placed in a Computer Applications class his second semester and it became apparent that typing on a typical keyboard and keeping up with class presented a challenge. 

John was given an assignment to type a letter in class. Paraprofessional Rebecca Rogers, knowing Traaseth’s special interest in computers and technology, suggested he address his letter to a company explaining his interest in their products and inquiring about adaptive tools.

Then Bennig suggested John send the letter.

Inspired to go further with this idea, Rogers and teacher Eva Groth assisted John with developing and sending three letters to three industry leaders, encouraging him to advocate for his needs and inquiring if the companies could offer any adaptive tools that could increase his accessibility with the use of a computer -- specifically a left handed keyboard/controller. 

On April 8, Groth received the following response from Teo Baloiu, the senior manager of human resources at Razer.

“Hi Eva,

“Reaching out as I wanted to let you know that I have received the letter John Traaseth sent. “Happy to hear he is doing well as part of the High School Computer Club and also is part of an inclusive environment.

“I don’t know how big your class is, or how your classroom is set up – however Razer is sending a few items which I hope will be of use in the classroom.

“John got his wish and he will be getting a Razer Tartarus  gaming pad. I am sure he will be so excited to use it when playing games!

“I have put in the mail a few keyboards, mice, mouse pads, headsets – hoping you will be able to use them in your classroom. Also sending some swag (lanyards, stickers, some hats, etc) to give to your students.

“Please be on the lookout for two boxes arriving via FedEx within the next week or so. Once I have the tracking number I will send it your way.”

Not only did John receive a left-handed controller, he was also able to share his “swag” with his classmates. Groth said she is very appreciative of the keyboards, mouse pads, headsets that all of her students are able to use and benefit the high school program. 

“John is an amazing example of what can be accomplished when you advocate for your needs no matter what your personal challenges may be. His teachers and peers are proud of him for being a leader, friend, and all round great young man,” Groth wrote in a note to the newspaper. “He and the New Richmond High School are also sincerely grateful for the overwhelming response from Razer for taking the time to read John’s letter, send a personal response and help him to get his needs met.”

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