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Noblesville High School student creates app for hall passes

February 23, 2016

A Noblesville High School senior has created an app to make hall passes paperless, and it’s gained more than 12,000 users in its first year.

Pass Whiz, the app created by 17-year-old Zack Baker, allows students to request a pass using a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Teachers can tap a button to approve or deny the requrest.

Students requesting a pass enter where they are coming from, where they want to go and why. Student also can seek a “quick pass” to go to the bathroom or their locker, which doesn’t require as much information.

If teachers deny a pass, they can include a reason for the decision.

When students arrive at their destination, the teacher can confirm arrival on the app or mark if a student never showed up.

Once integrated into a school, every student, teacher and administrator has an account.

Baker said schools typically pay $1.50 per student annually to use the app, which is free to download.

When a school signs up, Baker uploads the entire student database into the app so that users don't have to create accounts.

He launched the app in January 2015 at Noblesville High School after spending a year creating and designing it.

He said that during his sophomore year, he decided there had to be an easier solution than the paper system for hall passes. He said his school was spending about $1,200 per year on paper passes.

“What we’re looking for is a digital solution,” Baker said. “It makes the system a lot faster.”

He said the app eliminates the possibility of students forging signatures (he had his friends try to do so, and they weren’t successful) and it keeps a running history of all the passes a student has—not possible under a paper system.

Pass Whiz has about 12,500 students and teachers using it in four Indiana schools—Scottsburg High School, Riverside Junior High in Fishers, Center Grove High School and Noblesville High School—and one school in Pennsylvania, Ferndale Area Junior-Senior High School in Johnstown.

Baker plans to launch in schools in Hershey, Pennsylvania, next year.

He’s also meeting with Hamilton Southeastern Schools administrators next month to discuss the possibility of expanding to the entire district. So far, individual schools have signed up after receiving purchase approval from principals, but Baker said launching districtwide could require school board approval.

He admits the app “isn’t some giant revolution in the educational tech world,” but he’s considering looking for investors so he can easily expand it to other schools and states.

“I’m talking to new schools every day,” Baker said. “It’s kind of been crazy—the growth of it.”

Baker said he initially designed it only with Noblesville High School in mind, so he’s had to adapt it slightly for the other schools. He plans to spend the summer refreshing the app, when there aren’t active users.

“Every school approaches hall passes differently,” Baker said.

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