PowerUpdate app intends to relieve stress about grades

The PowerUpdate app immediately notifies students when a new grade is added into PowerSchool, reducing stress from constant grade-checking.

Photo by Ella Shi ’23

The PowerUpdate app immediately notifies students when a new grade is added into PowerSchool, reducing stress from constant grade-checking.

Ella Shi '23, Staff Writer

Every high school student understands the stress of waiting for their teacher to post a grade on PowerSchool. They refresh and refresh and refresh, hoping their grade will change, but it doesn’t. For many Staples students, constantly checking grades can be a hard habit to break and can cause anxiety.

For Owen Dolan ’21 and Simon Sandrew ’21, the same anxiety is what led to the creation of PowerUpdate, an app that texts students when a grade is added into PowerSchool.

The development of PowerUpdate began about three weeks ago when Sandrew caught himself constantly checking PowerSchool for a change in one of his classes.

“I got super frustrated. Why do I have to keep on checking [Powerschool]?” Sandrew said. “Why don’t I just get a notification on my phone?”

That’s when the idea for PowerUpdate hit him, and he immediately began to work on the prototype. He told Dolan about his idea. And, together, they spent hours creating the app.

“We did a lot of late-night coding sessions,” Dolan said. “We spent about a week overall working on the project.”

On Oct. 9, Dolan and Sandrew posted on the Staples Superfans Facebook page, announcing the launch of PowerUpdate. The post described how the app worked, including an FAQ, and laid out the price for a subscription: $4 per month, $20 every six months or $30 per year.

Nonetheless, Dolan and Sandrew’s main priority wasn’t to profit off of PowerUpdate.

“If me and Simon didn’t have to set a price we absolutely would not have to because we think it’s just a helpful service,” Dolan said. “[…] Our goal is to get as many people to use it as possible, not really to make money.”

“[…] Our goal is to get as many people to use it as possible, not really to make money,”

— Owen Dolan '21

Still, the app does cost Dolan and Sandrew money to operate, which is the rationale behind their prices.

Despite being securely encrypted, PowerUpdate is temporarily unable to launch to the entire student body due to school policies.

“We are seeing some pushbacks from the school because of how to log in because [the app] is physically logging into people’s accounts,” Sandrew said. “The school doesn’t like that […], so we’ve delayed setting it out.”

Nevertheless, Dolan, Sandrew and a few of their close friends have begun using the app. So far, it has been working smoothly and accomplishes its intended goal.

“It’s actually really nice because I no longer obsessively check PowerSchool,” Carrie Everett ’21, one of the few people using the app, said.

Regardless of the current limitations, Dolan and Sandrew have high hopes for the future of PowerUpdate.

“We want to give it to other people, and we want to make sure the service is used, not only [by] us and our closest friends, but by everyone at Staples,” Sandrew said. “Our biggest goal right now […] is what we can do to make it as accessible as possible.”

The app has already allowed students like Dolan, Sandrew and Everett to feel less stressed about PowerSchool.

“After a few [texts], I don’t check PowerSchool at all anymore,” Dolan said. “It’s kind of relieving honestly.”