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Sunday, May 30, 2010

School system hits the Web social networks

As Published in the Record Journal Sunday May 30, 2010

By Samaia Hernandez
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2266

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WALLINGFORD — Miss the school board’s new assistant principal appointments? Wondering if the next Board of Education meeting will be held at Sheehan High School or across town at the new Vernon E. Cleaves Vocational Agricultural Center?

Now there’s a place where Web savvy parents and residents with an interest in the town’s public schools can receive instant notifications from administration: Twitter.

“The goal would be to gradually expand the use of it, but right now we’re using it as a way to communicate with parents,” School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said of the “WallingfordPS,” account on Twitter.

Last month information technology teacher Robert Kovi and system Director Randall Backus joined forces with Menzo to bring Wallingford public schools to the social networking site where followers can opt to receive instant text messages on their cellular phones.

As of Thursday 29, people were signed on as followers. Residents may also sign-up from a link on the school system’s website at:

“Eric Carbone appointed Assistant Principal of Dag Middle School at 5/24/10 BOE meeting,” reads the latest post or tweet updated Wednesday. Other messages vary from links to reports and surveys to notices of special meetings. “Cindy Lavalette appointed Assistant Principal of Lyman Hall,” reads the second most recent tweet.

While the school system moves forward with plans to revamp its elementary school system for the fall, Twitter will be used as one of several ways to keep parents in the loop. Email, public access television, newsletters and the district’s website will function as communication channels during the reconfiguration process, which Menzo is calling a, “Grand Re-Opening” of the town’s elementary schools on Aug. 31.

The system is also planning a re-launch of its website this fall with expanded features such as online school registration.

“We also have a couple of people who are investigating the use of Facebook as a means of communicating with parents,” Menzo said. “We have some very progressive staff members.”

One such member’s office is located in the same building as administration.

Before central office caught wind of tweeting as a way to reach local families, Sheehan’s Athletic Director V.J. Sarullo was already busy using Twitter and Facebook for sports announcements.

As far as the department is concerned, the Twitter account, “MTSAthletics” and new Facebook group “Sheehan Athletics” are still getting off the ground with officials sending instant messages from their cellular phones of canceled games. Next fall Sarullo is hoping to expand coverage on both sites to include instant game results, awards night and other topics that relate to any of the school’s 22 teams.

“Things change up to the minute,” Sarullo said. “This way people will get the info a lot quicker.”

Lyman Hall High School is also on Facebook with 87 followers to date and the school’s Key Club is actively using Twitter.


From Jason Zandri – You can view / save the RSS feed of WallingfordPS’ tweets at RSS feed of WallingfordPS's tweets

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