Friday, November 26, 1999
A Civic presence

Students create cyberspace expo for nonprofit groups

Staff Writer


Two students at Starr's Mill High School have made a name for themselves in the community via the Internet, while providing a valuable service for a number of civic organizations.

Ben Gregg and Michael Matute, both seniors, are the men responsible for PTCOnline, found at on the Web. It is a collection of many sites of interest to residents of Peachtree City, all provided free of charge to area non-profit organizations.

The explanation on the site for its existence is the claim that the teenagers simply need to fight boredom. With the myriad activities and academic accomplishments of these two, that does not seem like a problem.

They became interested in the Internet around 1995, when relatively few people knew about it at all. Matute says he saw something about it on television and asked his parents to hook him up.

Both young men use it constantly — about three hours a day, according to Gregg — doing homework, talking to friends, or checking out whatever else interests them.

“We don't have to go to the library anymore,” said Matute. “We just go online.”

They originally talked about putting together Web sites for profit, but they simply do not have the time to manage such sites properly, although they have recently been approached by a couple of businesses about doing just that. They found that they preferred doing Internet work for organizations that could use a break from typical fees for such services. It's ridiculous how much some companies charge for so little work putting sites together, Gregg said.

“They [nonprofit groups] need an Internet presence just like everybody else,” said Matute.

The senior class home page is also their creation (Matute is the class secretary), and they started and operated the school newspaper's site before the school took it over.

Both students keep busy with a wide variety of interests, such as participating on the math team and playing some soccer. Gregg is an Eagle Scout, while Matute is the president of the Youth Advisory Board, a division of Peachtree City's Commission on Children and Youth, and he also started — surprise! — the YAB Web site in 1996.

According to Gregg, who built his own computer, the two learn a great deal simply by “fooling around.” Both are taking an impressive load of advanced placement classes this year, and they rank in the top 20 percent of their class.

Ben is the son of Wayne and Brooke Gregg, and he is likely bound for Georgia Tech after graduation. Michael, the son of Juan and Lynne Matute, is looking at Pomona College in California, where he is from and still has family in the area.

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