Actually a laptop can be useful for high school. It is even encouraged in elementary schools, at least according from some fellow co-workers who have children in elementary school. Granted their children are attending "high end" public schools in semi-wealthy to wealthy communities. Lessons are actually taught using the laptop with e-book textbooks and classroom / homework assignments are e-mailed to the teacher.
Is this the case for the average inter-city public schools? Probably not. The necessity of a laptop seems to depends on demographics. Therefore, it is possible that a laptop is necessary for the OP.