FHS students make the registration guide more user-friendly

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Students accustomed to zipping through information on an iPad would come to a screeching halt when handed the hardcopy registration booklet for Farmington High School classes.

"It's a 70-page booklet of basically pure text," said student Andy Payne. "Nobody read it."

Guidance counselor Jerome Pfau, who most assuredly read the booklet, saw an opportunity.

He organized an extracurricular club called Web Genius and challenged them to bring the registration guide into the 21st century.

"Last September (2015) we were given the objective of digitalizing the registration guide," said Emma Kelly, a senior at FHS. "We wanted to make the guide more user friendly and aesthetically pleasing."

The group, which did not do the project for any academic credit, started with six original members (including Pfau) and grew to 11 over the course of the year.

At a December school board meeting, Payne and Kelly presented their new website to the board.

"At FHS we used the student's unique talent and 21st century skills to solve real world problems, like the registration guide," Kelly explained.

The group started with a Google website, breaking down the guide's text into user friendly icons organized by subjects, courses and individual classes.

"Our graphics team created all original graphics and our tech team made all the icons clickable," Kelly said. "During the process, we met with the district tech experts multiple times. We finished at the beginning of January (2016)."

All FHS students used it to register for the 2016-17 school year. Instead of just text, the course descriptions were often accompanied by a picture or a video that helped the student better understand what he was signing up for.

It was well-received.

"This is awesome," said senior Amanda Davenport. "The course guide in PDF was less than, what's the word, it wasn't good. This is going to be very helpful, very useful in the future."

The group said the site is and will continue to evolve.

Once they proved it useful, the administration gave them the tools to build a professional website using Drupal. From there, they began adding sports and extracurricular activities.

Kelly said they were working on flowcharts to help ninth-graders understand what courses were required, and they hoped to add more video of the different courses.

The school board was impressed.

"So you guys basically did all of this work without any academic recognition for it? That's amazing," said board chair Julie Singewald.

Kelly returned the thanks, saying she was glad of the opportunity.

"This really gave us a chance to use our individual skill sets in creating something bigger than ourselves," she said.

To view the website, go to test875ndjlzutgx9.devcloud.acquia-sites.com/