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Park Rapids Area School District launches new website

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A new year brings a new website to the Park Rapids Area School district.

Residents and interested onlookers who have taken to the site in the last two weeks might have noticed a change to the site’s design and features.

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The district has re-designed the new website with help from an old face, and a new company.

Even though media specialist Mary Garlie is now retired from her role with the district, her professional status didn’t hinder her ability to lend a hand.

Laurie Conzemius, current high school media specialist, who acts also as current webmaster to the site, explained Garlie’s presence in the beginning stages of the re-design with gratitude.

“As a former teacher in the district, Mary knew firsthand the value of a quality website; she was familiar with all of the departments in the district. She met with the district leadership team and they discussed the changing role of a website for schools today. She then met with departments district-wide and began entering the information,” said Laurie Conzemius, high school media specialist and district curriculum integration specialist.

The new website clings largely to the backbone of a “Learning Community Management System” company called Edline.

The company provides district, school and classroom level website support for administrators in all 50 U.S. states.

“Research was done during the spring of 2013, investigating the possibility for a new website that would be a flexible and robust communication tool for our students, families and staff. It was determined that the Edline program would fulfill our needs, so the program was purchased and work on the website began in the fall of 2013,” Conzemius said. “A subcommittee of the district’s ‘technology committee’ did the initial research on web-based Learning Community Management System that would fit our situation.”

The web-based tools provide a school website foundation, with an added layer of student and content management if the school chooses to use it. Edline’s interface allows for growth and for additional types of activities. Most importantly, she said, Edline is private and secure, flexible, limitless and portable.

“We are utilizing only a portion of the tools available through Edline,” Conzemius said. “Through the rest of the school year, the website will be in continual development as teachers post course information, become more familiar with its features and receive further training in its use. The Edline site is also the perfect complement to our 1:1 iPad program in the high school. We will be looking at ways to integrate this tool into all of our courses. It is possible that teachers will begin to use the website to post their homework assignments, resources, content links, and much more.”

Conzemius explained how the updated website’s user-friendly model will allow teachers and district officials to keep better informed and in contact with each other.

“Our former website was difficult to update and not very intuitive,” she said. “As school websites have evolved they have become much easier to manage and much more flexible. We wanted the ability to post updated information on a regular basis and also be able to provide some information to everyone who visits our site, while keeping other information private.”

One of the new features is the updated calendar, which is three calendar links and open to the public. One is a Google calendar that has individual calendars for each school, highlighting each event and activity. The second is the school’s “today calendar” with every activity of that day listed. This calendar also allows notifications through either email or with text messaging. The third calendar is a PDF calendar for the school year.

An additional facilities calendar is available to staff members upon logging in, Conzemius said.

Other features are much broader reaching.

“The media center pages provide a wide range of digital resources for students, staff and community members,” she said. “From the website, parents are able to view their child’s grades, pay student lunch accounts, register for community education classes, and communicate with their teachers.”

The counselor’s page is filled with local and regional scholarships, college information, transcript and testing information.

“School websites used to be strictly a static location where the community could find information about the school. They were rarely updated and not well-used. Today’s school websites are a utilized more often and are an integral part of the school’s resources for students, as well as a chief means of communications between school and family,” Conzemius said.

Conzemius welcomes any questions or concerns about the site, or where its uses might be headed in the future.

“We are excited to have this new website available for communication with the students and the community. If you are finding that it is difficult to navigate, or if you are unable to locate a resource, we ask that you contact the high school media center by calling 237-6499,” she said. Conzemius can also be reached by email at lconzemius@parkrapids.k12.mn.us.

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Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
(218) 732-3364
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