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Escanaba High School uses texting to stay in touch

January 25, 2012
By JASON RAICHE , Escanaba Daily Press

ESCANABA - Escanaba High School officials hope a newly implemented mass text message service will keep students, parents and faculty informed of school closings, delays and upcoming events.

Escanaba High School Principal Doug Leisenring said the new system was implemented this school year, but the school had been sending out mass text messages over the past few years to keep students and parents informed of school closures or delays.

"What happened was in previous years I had this fairly economical, really cheap solution where I can, on a snow day, send out a text message, and it's a mass texting service," he said.

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Escanaba High School Principal Doug Leisenring sends out a mass text message from his cell phone through a newly implemented text message service at the high school. The service alerts parents, students, and faculty of school cancellations or delays, and of any upcoming meetings or school events.

"We started doing it as just a snow day notification a couple years ago and now we went to a more robust service."

The new service allows Leisenring to send out text messages to students, parents and teachers by phone or computer. Now students and parents are informed of, not only snow days, but meetings, important reminders and school events.

"We upgraded to a bigger system this year so we could handle a higher volume of messages going out, because we realize that so many people are starting to see that as a communication tool," said Leisenring.

He said the main issue this year is to figure out how the service can fully benefit both parents and students.

"I don't want it to be a nuisance," said Leisenring.

All students need to do to sign up for the text messages and alerts is text "esky" to 69302, and they are added to the student list. Likewise, parents may sign up for texting alerts from the parent list by texting "eskymos" to 69302.

"It's that easy to join. That's all you've got to do," said Leisenring.

He said the program costs the district roughly $40 per month and has been able to serve a great number of subscribers, including 76 parents, 375 high school students and 75 teachers throughout the district.

"So right now between the three groups I have approximately 525 people on the service," he said. "So I can type one message on the computer at home and hit 'send', and it sends out 525 texts just like that."

And if people want to unsubscribe from the service, all they have to do is text "stop" to the number sending the message or alert, but most everyone who has signed up has remained on the service's list, he said.

Leisenring said the goal is for the service to serve as a communication tool for parents and students alike, since the medium is becoming more popular, with many banks and credit card companies sending out mass texts to remind people when their bills are available and can be paid online.

"It's just becoming more and more prevalent with kids and adults, and we're just trying to embrace that and use that tool to improve communication," said Leisenring.



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