Kennedy High's 'go-to' tech student builds app for district

Scott Smith, a senior at Plainview-Old Bethpage High School, has developed an app for his school district that allows parents to get information such as emergency notifications and lunch menus. He was interviewed on March 12, 2014. (Credit: Barry Sloan)

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Plainview-Old Bethpage educators turned to a tech-apt pupil -- a senior at John F. Kennedy High School -- to design and build the official app for the school district.

Scott Smith, 18, known as the "go-to" student in the school when it comes to technology, fixing cracked iPhones and broken MacBooks, created the app called POB schools that so far has 1,500 users.

"He had the level of knowledge, and why not support the skill of our own?" said Sharon Lasher, assistant principal of Kennedy High School.

The app, which went live last month and is free, provides access to the district's website and features in a user-friendly mobile format. The district can send push notifications -- including emergency notices and word of closures and delays -- directly to the app's users.

Smith, paid $500 by the district for his work, would like to expand the service and offer his design to other schools. He is building on his talent in working with computers, honed since childhood.

"When I was younger, about freshman year, I was able to fix something. It was a computer issue, and word sort of spread that I was able to do that," Smith said. "I was like 'school tech support' without having to wait for school tech support."

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It was his experience in the high school's theater tech club and exposure through the district's media technology offerings that brought his skills to the attention of others, he said.

His reputation grew among fellow students. Teachers and district officials soon took note.

"From the time he was a student here, it was identified that he had this high-level technological ability," Lasher said. "He became a go-to person for the tech issues, and personally if we had a problem or question, we said, 'Let's call Scott.' "

Smith, who plans to pursue a career in network administration or the design of communication networks, said he worked on a sample app for the district for a couple of weeks last year and finalized the work this year. It launched on iTunes in February and soon will be on Android for Google Play and Amazon.

Features include links to the district's Twitter account, teachers' Web pages, school lunch menus and the school calendar. The app also offers a way for parents to prepay for school lunches.

One user wrote a review on iTunes: "All the info I need is only a click or two away. I have children in different schools and had to access multiple pages and sections just to see each of their lunch menus, as an example. That's all in one place now."

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