Calais Schools Launch Student-Designed Website

By Lura Jackson

 

It’s been said that the best way to learn something is to actually do it – and it is from that philosophy that the Calais school system’s website has been redesigned and launched through the efforts of a computer technology-focused student. Freshman Shane DelMonaco has spent three months working on the design and layout of the website, with the guidance of St. Croix Regional Technical Center instructor Jon Bragdon and the cooperation of several faculty members. 

The new website, which is viewable at calaisschools.org, offers a significant amount of content for each of the schools that it details. The elementary school, middle school, and high school each have a separate page within the website itself, enabling information pertinent to each school to be displayed. Visitors to the website can view student handbooks, calendars, lunch menus, announcements from the principals and faculty, and information on current events. The sports and extracurricular teams of the high schools have their own individual sections, which will include schedules for games. Honor rolls for both the middle school and high school can be accessed as well.

“One of the main goals in building this website was to make it as user-friendly as possible,” DelMonaco said, describing how different computer equipment can perceive sites differently, and not all devices will have appropriate software for some formats. DelMonaco sidestepped that when possible by avoiding uploading files that would require additional software to read, such as PDF files. Even the handbooks for each school are browsable by topic on-site, although those that wish to download a printable PDF can still do so.

Aside from the content that will always be accessible on the website, DelMonaco plans to do regular updates weekly or biweekly, including news briefs and photos from around the schools. “It’s going to keep changing, which, for one thing, is something we’ve never been able to do yet,” Jenkins enthused.

With his previous experience building websites from scratch for the St. Croix Historical Society and a local realty business, DelMonaco was enthusiastic about tackling the project for the school. Superintendent Ron Jenkins approached DelMonaco about the idea in September. “The exciting part about it is that we have at least four teachers involved and that we have a student that is primarily responsible for moving things forward.”

At school, DelMonaco has been working on the website as part of his instructional time in Bragdon’s class. Now that the bulk of the website building is over, and thus, the associated learning elements, DelMonaco will be paid $500 by the school system to continue his work over the coming year. “We couldn’t find anyone in the world that would do the amount of work that we’ve got here, and continue to do it over the year,” Jenkins said. The money may be reimbursable by the career center’s financial system. Even if it’s not, for elementary school Principal Sue Carter, it’s a worthy cost. “I’d give him $500 out of my salary to pay for it. I’ve been waiting a long time for that.”