Harker Dev: The second generation

For most students, the online bell schedule is a staple: with its neat, boxy design, it serves as an online version of the schedule card that all students receive every matriculation. The difference is that the online version is dynamic, constantly changing to reflect special schedules and boasting features that allow students to customize their own experience with the schedule, from adding color to viewing the schedule on a day-by-day basis rather than its default weekly mode.

However, what students may not realize is that a group of juniors and seniors, all members of the organization Harker Dev, are the ones quietly working to make the bell schedule the consistent service that it is today.

Currently, Harker Dev consists of senior Neeraj Aggarwal and juniors Ryan Adolf, Joel Manning, David Melisso and Rithvik Panchapakesan. Though they are more than familiar with inputting special schedules and updating lunch items on the lunch menu, each member was once new to the process. In fact, this group of coders is the second generation of Harker Dev, having inherited projects like the bell schedule from the team of Brian Chan (‘14), Manan Shah (‘17), Vedaad Shakib (‘17) and Andrew Tierno (‘17).

The bell schedule created by the Harker Dev. The team also manages websites like Harker lunch menu, course planner and a GPA calculator.

“It was 2014, and [the team was] working on a project because they realized, after coming to high school, that the bell schedule was too confusing,” Neeraj, who joined the team as a sophomore, said. “Back then, there wasn’t a block schedule: you had smaller classes every day in different orders, so they decided to build a bell schedule. And they formed this organization, Harker Development, on Github.”

For Neeraj, the impetus to start coding came in seventh grade and continued into high school, when he began participating in Hackathons, events during which programmers come together to collaborate on software projects. However, it wasn’t until he met the members of Harker Dev that he discovered his interest in implementing projects for the school and for his peers.

Conversely, the juniors on the team discovered Harker Dev through coding for the school — in 2016, academic dean Evan Barth challenged students to develop a replacement for the planner in Naviance, which had previously been the main device for planning one’s future courses in preparation for January’s course selection. Hoping to create a friendlier and simpler user interface, David, Joel, Ryan and Rithvik teamed up with other members of their class to create the Harker Planner, which is now used by students throughout the school.

“When Mr. Barth announced a coding challenge for the course planner, [David, Rithvik, Joel and I] got together with some other people to make the Harker Planner. Then, we realized that we wanted to do more, and we thought of taking on other projects as well,” Ryan said.

For some members, fully implementing a project that would be used and advocated for by Harker’s faculty, staff and students was a dream come true.

“In middle school, Ryan, Rithvik and I made this very small organization, and we wanted to redo PCR, after the Harker Homework Management System (HHMS) had gone. We failed, but we really had this vision to code for Harker since middle school,” David said with a laugh. “I always thought that Harker would be a great place for students to code for the school.”

The group then looked into other avenues of creating similar projects for in-school use, soon connecting with Harker Dev through Andrew.

“We were all sort of connected with [Andrew], so it was easy to merge our group with his,” Joel said.

Since then, the members of Harker Dev have learned to accommodate for the effort and time commitment involved in creating ready-for-use software applications. Through countless hours of Github commits and lines upon lines of Javascript code, Harker Dev has churned out a flurry of projects: in addition to the bell schedule, the lunch menu and the course planner, Harker Dev has created a GPA calculator and Food Court, a site where teachers can order dinner.

What the typical online Harker Lunch menu looks like on a weekly basis. The Harker Dev team also manages websites like Harker bell schedule, course planner and a GPA calculator.

“For each project, it’s different. Bell schedule is an ongoing project, while for course planner, it took a couple hundred hours in total, just for me. Food Court was also a similar commitment,” David said. “Every project that I work on takes a significant part of that month, so I will notice it taking time from other things, for sure.”

Harker Dev’s hard work has paid off — the group is recognized not only by teachers and students but also by administrators, who work to ensure that information such as schedule changes is communicated to them in a timely manner. The group also boasts a Harker email, which students can use to pitch ideas and address concerns. Students can look to their website for updates on future projects as well.

“Everything we have right now is in a very early stage, but when we do get things ready for testing, we’re definitely going to let people know,” Rithvik said.

Because all five members of the team are currently upperclassmen, Harker Dev is currently looking into recruiting younger students and inspiring them to join the effort as well. Students can apply by emailing [email protected].

“We want to maintain Harker Dev beyond our time and pass on the torch to younger students, just like Andrew passed the torch to us,” Neeraj said.