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Century geography students spruce up city's website

From left, Abby Fischer, Charity Ridlon and Christina Smith were some of Ardis Johnson's eighth-grade geography students who worked on updates to the Park Rapids city Website. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids city website has undergone major changes thanks to Century School eighth graders.

"It's a lot easier to get into and for people to get the information they need," said city planner Dan Walker, who worked with the students.

For his department, having permit applications available online makes it much easier to help people. He can direct people to the city's website at

The city was approached by eighth grade teacher Ardis Johnson about updating the website and having her geography students work on those updates. She thought it would be a good way for her students to learn about city government and where they live.

"It started as a very small project," Johnson said. "I just wanted to add a page including the five themes of geography."

Then, after looking at the site, she saw room for improvement.

Last year, Johnson's class did some updates to the city's site but it was just a start. This year, students worked to make the site uniform and professional looking as well, she said.

Students worked with Todd Kumpula, one of the school's computer gurus, to update the pages. He taught the kids how to use the computer programs.

"The kids learned about the cit and now understand the difference between business and government," Johnson said.

Students took pictures for the Website and also learned about private and public property.

"There's nothing in the world that's not part of geography," Johnson said.

Abby Fischer, Megan Norby, Charity Ridlon and Christina Smith were some of the eighth graders who worked on the Website.

"We got assigned to the home page," Smith said.

Learning the computer programs was difficult but they have figured out how to use them now.

"It was fun making the pages your own," Ridlon said.

Ridlon guesses they spent about 20 hours during the course of the year working on the site.

One feature the students think is neat is on the public works section. People can report a problem by linking to an e-mail address on the site.

Chris Fieldsend, who works for the city's public works department, does most of the Internet and computer work for the city. He also worked with the school on updating the Website.

A new feature on the site is a staff directory with contact information for each person. A fee schedule was also added.

"Each of the departments met with the students and told them 'this is what we'd like to see,'" Walker said. "They developed the pages."

Students gave a presentation to city staff about the changes made to the site.

"It was good to see they learned more about city government," Fieldsend said.

One of the biggest features Fieldsend wants people to know about is the project updates page.

"We'll have updates on Main Avenue and other street projects," he said.

If people have any suggestions for the Website they can contact city hall at 732-3163.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561