Volume 16 Issue 2
By Mike Myslinski
Mission San Jose High School students, from left, Andrew Han and Sumukh Sridhara, along with parent volumteer Raj Barma, were honored for creating the iPhone app for Fremont Unified School District.
Want the latest news about your school district right on your smartphone? Now there’s an “app” for that — at least in one Bay Area school district, thanks to the inventiveness of two high school students.
The Fremont Unified School District students have created the first iPhone application for a school district in California. Andrew Han and Sumukh Sridhara, both seniors at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, came up with the idea and ran with it, says Han’s journalism teacher at the high school, Sandra Cohen.
“I think it’s fabulous,” she says. “I was so impressed.”
The free app was launched with great fanfare — the two boys wore suits and ties and spoke in front of TV news cameras — at a school board meeting on Sept. 14. An official from Apple attended as well. More than 400 people downloaded the app, called “iFUSD,” in the first two weeks.
The story really began earlier this year when Han approached Cohen about creating an app for the campus newspaper, The Smoke Signal, where Han is co-editor in chief. He teamed up with his friend Sridhara and soon, Cohen says, the app was being used “to send push notifications of breaking news and Web stories.”
But Han wanted to expand his app to serve the entire school district. “He decided it would just be a cool thing to do,” Cohen marveled.
As in any Silicon Valley start-up, they divided their duties based on their strengths: Han served as product manager and Sridhara as developer. They pitched Superintendent James Morris, who put them in touch with his people — Director of Technology John Krull and Horner Junior High School parent Rajan Barma, who has tech background.
Once downloaded, the application allows anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to quickly get special Fremont Unified alerts, school board agendas, maps with locations of all schools, school budget data, community event schedules and emergency information. It smoothly interfaces with the district’s website.
“They worked all summer on it,” Cohen says of the boys’ ambition. “It’s really very impressive work.”