Southwick Regional developing own app

SOUTHWICK – Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional High School is about to get a bit more cutting edge.
Principal Joseph Turmel and Information Technology teacher Melissa Trzasko sought and received approval last week from the school committee to develop a school app for smartphones that could also be used via text or email.
The app is called SchoolWay and is run through the Jostens company. The free program can be downloaded the same way as any other app.
Turmel said students would help create and manage the app.
“Students will build some of the links and learn about marketing, as well. We control what is being sent out and it cannot be ‘retweeted’ and there are no comments,” said Turmel.
Students, parents and staff could download the app and receive messages of interest. Turmel said it is another way to communicate with families without using the Blackboard Connect system, which he said should be reserved for emergencies and school-wide or district-wide events.
“This was utilized in my previous school district,” Turmel said, adding it was successful. “Blackboard Connect should be for things weather-related or high priority. This app will allow us to send push notifications in a simple, protected, efficient way.”
Messages about sports practices, play rehearsals, guidance department reminders and more could be sent out.
“We’re looking to develop this app through Mrs. Trazsko’s class,” Turmel said. “The athletic director, school nurse, or other programs could have their own page within the app,” he said.
Trazsko said they would pilot the app with about 30-40 recipients initially to work out any issues.
“We’re going to implement it with two groups, then after the first of the year we’ll analyze the information ans hopefully will get it out to the community,” Turmel said.
Committee members asked if there was an advertising component to the free app. Turmel said the district could sell scrolling ads on the pages, but his preference was to launch without advertisements.
“That would be my strong preference,” said Superintendent John Barry.
The committee also asked about data gathering and wondered if Jostens would have the ability to track user data and possibly share or sell that information. Turmel said it works like any other app and is downloaded so there is no user input required.
“If you don’t have a smartphone, you could sign up for texts or emails,” he added.

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