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Student website may offer relief for traffic around high school

It’s no secret that the traffic issues at Mercer Island High School in the morning and afternoon, when the school day ends, is nothing short of a dangerous mess.

MIHS senior Charles Hattemer, vice president of the Associated Student Body, is taking on yet another responsibility. Already a web designer, Hattemer is working to develop a website where students can find other students with the same schedule to carpool with.

Hattemer said it will be modeled after Zimride, a website that already exists, which accomplishes the same goal mostly for university students — only, Zimride charges a fee.

Hattemer’s concept would be free, but with incentives to motivate students to use the service, such as free parking or coupons for businesses around the Island. Students pay $50 a semester for a parking spot at MIHS.

Hattemer said the idea was brainstormed in his leadership class. The traffic problem was one of the issues they talked about with superintendent Gary Plano. Hattemer offered to take the project on because he already operates Georgetown Web Design, which he took over from his older brother, Henry, who now practices law in Los Angeles.

Hattemer said it’s difficult for students to carpool because finding peers with the same schedule can be a headache due to after-school activities or early release.

“The ultimate goal is to have less traffic around the school,” Hattemer said. “You’d be matched up with someone with a similar schedule, which would make it easier than trying to find someone who has your same schedule.”

He said he’s done projects similar to this. His brother started the business while attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., so most of Hattemer’s business comes from clients in D.C.

“It’s great, really interesting work,” Hattemer said. “We create professional, functional and affordable websites for small businesses, nonprofits and independent professionals.”

He said he spent the summer with Henry learning about sales and the clientele. Hattemer has also been in contact with Zimride’s people, who he said are not concerned about his project, and in fact are supportive.

He also wants to integrate the carpooling website with Facebook, so students can sign up through their Facebook accounts. Another student, Zack Elliott, is working with him on the programming and applications, perhaps even creating a mobile application.

The two have not come up with a name for the website, so if you have any great ideas, Hattemer said they’re open to suggestions.

Hattemer plans to keep running Georgetown Web Design when he goes to college, where he will continue to dabble in technology, but his real passion is film.

“My dream route would be first a film editor, then maybe move into directing and producing,” he said.

Hattemer said the goal is to have the carpooling website up by the beginning of the spring semester, which is the beginning of February.

“The biggest hurdle is going to get students to buy into it,” he said. “The first time it goes online, it might be hard to generate interest.”

For more information on Georgetown Web Design, visit www.georgetownwebdesign.com.

 

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