Heading back to school can be stressful for students. Questions like, "who are my teachers," "where are my classes" and even "how bad is the traffic" can flood the minds of Southern California high schoolers navigating the first few days.
But at The Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana all of those questions can be answered with a quick swipe of an iPhone. The 7th-12th grade public charter school, which started the academic year on Tuesday, has a free app for students and parents.
Along with class schedules, users can access their grades and the school's social media sites via the app. They can also get Amtrak and Metrolink schedules, check the school lunch menu and even purchase songs from the school's famous alumni via iTunes. Lindsay Mendez, who plays Elphaba in "Wicked"on Broadway, and "Glee" star Matthew Morrison are among the school's former students.
"It's not just a static app. It's constantly kind of moving and changing," said Judy Tomlinson, who designed the app with her husband Mike. Their daughter Alexandra is a 9th-grader at the school.
The husband and wife team launched the app last fall and it's been downloaded more than 2,000 time since then.
The two are founders of the tech company AvocSoft.
"I've worked really hard all my life, and I just wanted to be part of my daughter's life and give back," Judy Tomlinson said. The Tomlinsons worked with OCSA staff and students on the app's development.
The app is regularly updated and adjusted to fit the school community's needs, she said. For the new school year, the app includes links to purchase school t-shirts, workout pants with the school's logo and other gear.
The school is one of the top arts schools in Southern California and is attended by nearly 2,000 students from more than 100 cities throughout Southern California.
The app can be downloaded via the Apple iTunes Store. It is also available for iPad and plans are in the works to expand the app to other platforms.