New ID application for scanners to be released to teachers, students

Jessica Spitz

Student ID card scanners were installed in the cafeterias at the middle and upper schools Nov. 19. While ID cards used to be swiped by cafeteria employees in order to purchase food, now students simply hold their cards up to the scanner themselves.

“When I first saw the scanners I was kind of surprised because they were so cool and it made [paying] so much faster and easier,” Sloane Chmara ’15 said.

The new scanners are only one aspect of the initiative Prefect Council is in the process of implementing. While still at the middle school, sophomore prefects Grace Pan ’16 and Alec Winshel ’16 were approached by seventh graders who suggested the use of an ID application, which would make physical ID cards unnecessary. They contacted Cameron Cohen ’16, who has experience in coding and programming, to help create an app for iPhones and Androids.

“We noticed that students easily crack, lose or forget their ID cards, and were spending tons of money buying new ones or were constantly borrowing their friends,” Pan said.

Pan and Winshel sent a detailed presentation of their plan to Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin, who gave them the administration’s approval.  They also enlisted the help of Director of Computer Services Dave Ruben.

When Pan, Winshel and Cohen arrived at the Upper School this year, they teamed up with Charles du Manoir ’15 and Jono Klein ’15, two members of the Entrepreneur Club. Du Manoir and Klein had had a similar idea of having school IDs on students’ phones.

The app was released to teachers Dec. 16 and will be available for students to download from the app store in the near future. There will be QR codes posted around campus that students can scan on their phones, which will link them immediately to the app.

“Right now there is some more testing to try to make the app and the scanners work as fast as possible, but it’s almost done,” Cohen said.

Students will be able to log in using their Harvard-Westlake usernames and passwords. The ID on the screen will resemble normal IDs, with photos, ID numbers, bus stickers and barcodes.

“We believe that students will enjoy the benefits of the new electronic IDs because the majority of students have their phone easily accessible,” Pan said.