CLINTON — Who would have thought that the “Cisco Kid,” a character created by O. Henry in 1907, would bridge the generation gap in the 21st Century.

But instead of toting six-shooters and riding into the sunset, four Clinton High School students connected one generation with another with their computer networking knowledge.

“The Internet is limitless,” sophomore Mike Steines, told his small audience of Sarah Harding residents as he printed off a chocolate chip cookie recipe while the ladies received a mini inservice on how to navigate the Internet.

According to Char Oberbroeckling, administrative assistant at the Sarah Harding, many residents have never seen the Internet and don’t know what a computer mouse is.

The four students, Matt Bahr, Steve Figg, Michael Courter and Mike Steines, are enrolled in Ray Smith’s Cisco I computer networking class at Clinton High School.

Smith is a board member at Sarah Harding, so it was a logical partnership to have his students network the newly opened media center at the senior residence facility.

Oberbroeckling said both residents and employees will benefit from the center, which is equipped with two computers, a facsimile machine, an enlarger machine that helps the visually impaired and videos and DVDs.

“They are finding out you can find out anything you want on the Internet,” Oberbroeckling said.

“We are setting up each one (resident) with their own e-mail address; their families can e-mail them and even if they aren’t able to e-mail them back, or if they are not comfortable on the computer, we can give them the e-mail so they can get instant messages, instant pictures. And they are finding out what their kids and grandkids are talking about, which is spectacular.”

A few residents have computers and one has had to go to the public library to retrieve her e-mail.

A granddaughter of one of the residents showed her grandmother how to play solitaire so she could get used to the mouse. Grandma has arthritis in her hands.

“I’ve had staff who have never seen it (Internet) either,” Oberbroeckling related. “It’s for the residents and the staff is able to use it too.”

But before this happened the Cisco Kids had to enter the picture.

“These are students in my Cisco I computer networking class,” Smith explained. “The funny thing is, they didn’t even know who the Cisco Kid was.”

While Smith is explaining this, Matt Bahr is doing a Google search for the Cisco Kid on the Internet.

Smith says he is always looking for ways for his students to get real-life, real-world experiences.

“From the classroom, right into a place where they can kind of come in and do something that is significant and all I can say... is they are anxious to do this again,”

Describing Steines and Bahr, Smith said they are anxious to show their talents.

“These two grew up knowing nothing about the things we know about but they know everything about the computer.

“They have so much knowledge that can be shared.”

Cisco networking corporation is based in Arizona and according to Smith, about 85 to 90 percent of the Internet is Cisco equipped.

“You could call them the network plumbers — they connect all the information from place to place to place,” he said.

The purpose of the Cisco Networking Academies is to teach students skills about networking — how information flows on wires. Students enrolled in the class get high school credit as well as credit from Clinton Community College.

According to Smith, Cisco is an international learning corporation. He has a foreign exchange student from Germany taking the class and when she returns to her native country the credit will transfer along with her.

CHS students who take all four trimesters of Cisco classes can then take an exam and receive certification as a Cisco Certified Networking Associate.

“This is very valuable once they get into industry because it shows they have passed a test and they know the material,” Smith said.

It took the four students approximately 11/2 hours to set up the system at Sarah Harding Home.

“Basically, they took the computers out of the box and configured them,” Smith said. They also set up e-mail with Mediacom.

Bahr, who is a junior, plans on taking all four classes. He’s always been into computers and networking and he believes he gets good information from his class.

“I want to get into technology when I get out of high school and eventually college,” Bahr related.

“Learning all of this will give me the ability to actually do this in future business.”

Sarah Hardimg Administrator Jurgin Duhr describes the project as a perfect match.

“We nicknamed them (students) the Cisco Kids and we were able to create an environment to enable them to utilize everything they have been doing in Mr. Smith’s class,” he explained. “They just came in... they had all the tools. They knew where this wire had to be attached to that wire. It was just a perfect opportunity.”

As for the three residents, Frances Thomson, Alice Nelson and Mary McConohy — they were having a great time learning from the students.

For all of them, it was their first experience with a computer. Nelson had written an e-mail to her niece in Camanche and was excited to get a reply.

As the Cisco Kids packed up to leave, their senior friends were playing an interactive game of Jeopardy on the Internet.