Fort Wayne — Chance McKibben, 14, started dabbling in mobile app design about two years ago when he first got a Mac.
His first app helped his brother, a photographer, show clients proofs on the go.
Then last semester, he got to thinking that his own school district, Fort Wayne Community Schools, should have an app. He put his mind to work, developing the tools that would allow parents access school supply lists, calendars and other information on their smartphones and other mobile devices.
When he was finished, he sent out a mass email with screenshots of his new app to FWCS officials at Grile Administration Building.
Five minutes later, he ended up in his principal’s office for a chat about how not to use district email addresses, and about how to put his skills to work.
Several months later, after a bit of input from FWCS officials, McKibbben’s app went live for all to see.
FWCS unveiled McKibben’s free app Wednesday and praised him for his creation.
“We think it’s a big deal when an eighth-grader can provide so much service to the entire community,” said FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson, who called McKibben’s accomplishment amazing.
After downloading the app, people can use it to check school supply lists, calendars, lunch menus, grades and more, according to FWCS officials.
The app will also send alerts about weather delays, cancellations and other important announcements.
“It’s making the district mobile,” said McKibben, who brought an iPad to the news conference to showcase his app. “It’s amazing how I can put the district on everyone’s device.”
District officials said the app will make information more accessible to people in the district, and perhaps eventually cut down on paper costs associated with distributing the information in other ways.
While they said some districts have paid up to $20,000 for the creation of a similar app, FWCS officials said they paid McKibben less than $1,000.
The free app is available through the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for Fort Wayne Community Schools.
It can be used on iPhones, iPads, Androids and other devices.
McKibben recently started Apple App Factory, a mobile app development company. He hopes to help local businesses find ways of making their company mobile.
Before McKibben’s app was approved, he had to submit it to Apple for a two-week examination. Typically, he said, Apple will make suggestions for improving the product, prolonging the process. But McKibben got the green light right away.
District officials who worked with McKibben on the app said they were blown away by his knowledge and professional demeanor.
“Sometimes we forget that he’s an eighth-grader,” FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.