Two years ago, student Storm Alexander (‘15)made a schedule app. While this app did not come to fruition, it inspired something larger. Three seniors and one junior have spent the last year developing a new app, named PCI Connect.
Last summer, Andrew Enger (‘18) and Robert Vitali (17’) set out “to give the student body a deeper experience that connected homework and clubs and other neat features we thought would go along with the everyday Packer experience.”
At the beginning of this year, they created an independent study, doubled their team adding Eon John (‘17) and Nate Antoine (‘17) and started to work on the app. As they coded, their team doubled their aspirations for the project and expanded it to include a web app. After months of work, on April 13, they released the project on the app store.
“We have five main pages or features,” explained Robert. “The first one is the schedule and it displays your schedule based on the day because we have all the information for which day falls on which date. You can design specific club names for each day because clubs meet one day out of the seven-day cycle, so you can add them into the community band or the break advising band.”
An additional feature is a planner.
“The idea behind [the planner] is that you want to have quick access to your homework assignments,” said Robert.
The lunch menu is another aspect of the app. The team downloads the lunch menu off of the Packer website each week to give users quick access to the lunch items every day.
The penultimate feature in the app is the barcode.
“Since we started the barcode this year in the lunchroom, we thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate the barcode into the app,” said Robert.
The final feature is the feed option, which is what Robert “think[s] the most useful feature will be” in the entire app. They plan for this feature to be used as a supplement to Google Classroom and Facebook for the administration to get announcements out to all the students; potentially replacing the emails from Ms. Bishop.
Ever since the app came out about a month ago, according to Faculty Advisor to the project Mr. Minsky, “the Upper School enrollment and engagement in the app has been pretty good,” and they have gotten good feedback to make the app even better.
One student, Jordyn Pierre-Raphael (‘20), had never interacted before with the app, and after playing with it for a few minutes felt that “it encompasses everything that a student needs in the day because it has their schedule and ID and it tells them what’s for lunch, and I think that’s really helpful because people often have to get this information from different sources.”
Looking back on what they had done so far, Mr. Minsky is “really proud” of the creators and what they had done up to this point but he knows that “[the creators] are constantly working to think of new features.” The first and most important is adding clubs to the feed feature. Robert explained his vision for the feature.
“We think that club outreach is a big issue at Packer. So, we are going to design a master club list with the club name, the time and the meeting location. In this club list, you will be able to subscribe to specific clubs you are a part of, with is subscription the leaders of the club will have the ability to write to the feed and for anyone who is subscribed to the club, you will get this information that the club leaders are sending out.” They hope that this will increase club participation in the upper school, which has been decreasing over the last few years.
Jordyn found this to be a really good idea explaining, “at the beginning of the year once you sign up for a club, you are forced to get all of those emails even though you don’t go and I think that a quick announcement on your phone is a really good idea to push people to join clubs.”
When reflecting on what he wants this app to give to the student body, Robert explained: “I want information to reach the people that actually want to hear it, here at packer, sometimes you get lost in the crowd or information is not really communicated well from the student body or the faculty and I feel like this has a good opportunity to improve that situation at packer.”