Needs of all students taken into consideration for new Student Activities website

Users of the Student Activies website can filter clubs by chosen Noise Level and Mobility Level to find a club that fits them.

Josie Lorenz | The Chronicle

The Student Activities user guide is getting an upgrade.

Mason High School’s (MHS) Student Activities Board has put in motion a plan to incorporate methods to make the user guide, a website on the Mason student hub laying out events and activities for students during the school year, more accessible for students and families alike. 

Jana Surace, the mother of two MHS students, created the initial idea for the Student Activities Board in the summer of 2021 after working on the idea with the school’s student guidebook team. As a mother of a student with a disability, she felt like there needed to be more and easier access to information on the website.

“The project started with a simple question,” Surace said.‘What would a parent of a student with a disability want to know when choosing a club or activity. How do we present the information in a way that makes sense and is available to all?”

Surace hopes that the changes to the user guide can help not only students with disabilities, but all students and families in figuring out which activities interest them. Surace said that the intention was to make the information on every event and club’s accessibility apparent to all but not separate from the main sources. 

“[We thought] if all the students are going to be accessing the same club or activity, why have a separate source of information about it,” Surace said. “If the club is inclusive, the information for access to the club should be viewable by all users as well. This led to the format chosen for the new Activities page on the MHS website.” 

Lorri Fox Allen, a Student Activities director, accompanied by her team, engaged in Surace’s thoughts immediately. They collaborated with students, parents, and staff to circulate ideas of ways they could bring the website’s additions to life. The group working on the project said that they took to the website looking to incorporate ways students and parents can consider possible choices of afterschool activities or events that fit their needs.

“When you click on a club or an activity, it will tell you like okay, this is a very loud club,” Allen said. “So if noise bothers you, or you don’t like to be in a highly stimulating environment, you can know that that club may not be for you.”

Jen Christmas, a parent of two Mason students understands the importance of students being able to access a community of students they feel comfortable in. With a younger mason student with a disability, Christmas holds this project dear and relies on the website’s updates. She said this website can help families like hers navigate extracurriculars for students easier than ever before.

“I want my son, who has a disability, to have the same type of experience if he so chooses,” Christmas said. “The activity page will be helpful in guiding us as to which clubs, sports, or activities will best fit his needs and allow us to have a real conversation with him outlining what the expectations of the club are, what supports he may need, and how we can make his experience the best for him.”

Additions to the website are still expanding, with the team hoping to reach other students that may need help accessing information differently. Allen said that she hopes for an easier translation and a way to reach out to incoming students and their families of that sort.

“I hope that it becomes a very [useful] tool for all of our families,” Allen said. “The one thing that we haven’t been able to do is to make the website more accessible for ESL students. But we are hoping to expand the accessibility further with that.”

Surace and the team working on making a transparent user guide are proud of where they have been able to go with the updates to the student activities website and hope it can be of great use to students, teachers, and families alike. Surace said her goal is to make sure all students can find a club that fits them.

“By simply including that information, we have created the space for these issues to be addressed and discussed,” Surace said. “Not every club is right for every student, but the new page has provided information for students and parents to find the right fit and provide background information. It sends that message that all are welcome.”

Photo from MHS Student Activities