Va. Students Automate Magnet School Application

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Within a few months, each of Henrico County (Va.) Public Schools’ 13 magnet schools will have a fully automated application process, thanks to two high school interns who built the software program this past summer.

Jack Palen, a graduate of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, and Shravan Ravishankar, a senior at Deep Run High School, were students in Deep Run’s Center for Information Technology magnet program. They developed the online software application during their internship using eTelic’s Turanto, a software application generator which creates programming for applications. Officials from eTelic, a software development firm located a mile from the Deer Run center, anticipate the new, paperless system will save 20,000 hours for 3,700 eighth-graders applying for the programs and hundreds of teachers and administrators who submit transcripts and recommendations. It will also reduce paper costs.

It will be a few months, however, before the system goes live, says Eric Jones, assistant superintendent for secondary education at Henrico County schools. The prototype is completed but work remains. “It now has to be tied into our database and student information system, and we’re still deciding whether we will devote some internal resources to this or if it is something that other students could assist us with,” Jones says.

What makes the project unique is that Palen and Ravishankar took on a real-school problem. “They focused on the application system from the beginning,” Jones says. “This kind of real-world experience is difficult to replicate in a school.”

Jones says the partnership with eTelic paves the way for a future of business partnerships in the community—a major goal of the districtwide strategic plan. —Lynn Russo Whylly

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