School Home Page Helps Students With Homework

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Rim Country Middle School Principal Frank Larby hopes he has solved an old problem with some new technology.

The problem: getting his 681 students to take hard copy memos, announcements and other information home to parents.

The solution: an expanded Web site that provides information about the school that parents need to know plus a whole lot more.

"The school board set a goal of finding new ways to communicate with the public," Larby said. "I simply combined that mandate with something I have a personal interest in computers."

Larby began some time ago with e-mail.

"When parents register their kids, we ask for their e-mail address so we can send newsletters and other information that way," he said.

Now he has taken another leap with the expansion of the school's Web site www.pusd.k12.az.us/rcms/home.html to include a host of new features.

"There are only two schools in the district with their own Web sites," Larby said, "us and Frontier Elementary."

While RCMS has had a home page since the beginning of school, the new, improved version of the site became operational just last week. In addition to being "more consistent and easier to browse," Larby said in a recent e-mail to parents, it has some exciting new features, including:

Updated homework-help sites, including Science Fair Central, Research Paper.com, Homework Help, and The Discovery Channel.

Resources for parents, including single moms, and resources through the Arizona Supreme Court.

A large list of Internet resources that both parents and children can use.

A community message board that can be used to post messages regarding school issues.

An e-mail directory for the entire RCMS staff so, for example, a student who is home sick can find out what he or she missed and keep up with the work.

Larby designed and built the Web site himself. "I'm a techie and like to play with computers, so I purchased the software and just went at it," he said.

Making the RCMS Web site the best in the Rim country is the principal's ultimate goal.

"It's been a lot of fun so far, but we're still pretty new at it," he said. "We'll get better."

One upcoming change that is especially timely considering the imminent opening of the new cineplex at Sawmill Crossing is a page where parents can check out the movies their kids might be going to see.

"It's called Entertainment Information for Parents, and it's already in the works," Larby said. "They just type in the name of the movie, and it will tell them about any violence or bad language, right down to which scenes," he added.

In the two weeks the site has had a counter, it has recorded 500 hits.

"That's a little misleading," Larby said, "because the library computers go through it. But we're pretty enthused about how fast the word is getting around."

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