Introducing Stuyvesant’s Student-Run Lost and Found Website
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Seniors Alden Sevilla and Tomas Acuña introduced the Stuyvesant community to their Lost and Found website as an addition to the Lost and Found Facebook group on March 9. A few days later, a mobile-friendly version was released.
Prior to the development of the website, the Stuyvesant Lost and Found Facebook group, consisting of more than 3,000 members, was the primary source of communication for students who had lost or found items. Students who found items around the school would report and post pictures while also providing updates on which bin or room the item was placed in. Other information and findings could also be commented on the description posts of those who lost the items.
Coded by Sevilla with Acuña’s help, the website serves as a new centralized digital platform containing a catalog of items found around the school. Categories include electronics, outerwear, personal school supplies, and books. The contents of each category are updated and organized daily. Once an item is returned, it is then marked as found on the website.
So far, the website has garnered interest and attention from students and staff members alike. “As of the last time I checked, over 300 people clicked on the link to the website. The goal, at least for me, is for it to become a primary tool to help people find things they lost,” Sevilla said.
Sevilla and Acuña decided to improve the original Lost and Found system due to its disorganization and lack of efficiency. “At the very beginning, there was only one lost and found box,” Acuña said. “You have to sift through and dig through the whole thing to find any item. So I went up to Alden and I was like, ‘This is sort of messed up. Everything is just tossed in here and it takes forever to find anything, so we should make [separate boxes].’”
Though new boxes were added and labeled, Acuña and Sevilla wanted to address further issues with the Lost and Found, such as the inability to see if things were in the Lost and Found without looking through the boxes. “[Tomas] told me that I should post any new items onto the Lost and Found Facebook group,” Sevilla said. “I said that would be too much of a nuisance. I think it would be great if we cataloged it, and [Tomas] said it should be on a website.”
As the primary developer of the website, Sevilla faced several challenges, the most significant being his lack of prior experience with coding. “Before the website, my only experience with computer science was one semester of Intro to Comp Sci in my sophomore year,” Sevilla said. “Honestly, the hardest part was setting up everything since I had to teach myself to do things, but it was really worth it.”
Initial features of the website limited navigation, with some students reporting unsuccessful attempts to interact with the webpage. However, after the website became mobile-friendly, this issue was largely resolved. “We made it much easier to navigate after someone told me some features weren’t working,” Sevilla said. “You can go to different categories by using the menu rather than returning to the homepage every time.”
Though the Facebook groups currently reach a numerically larger audience, the developed website proves to be more suitable for some. “Personally, I’m not really social so I wouldn’t really post on Facebook, so the website is a better choice,” anonymous freshman B said. “Sometimes, Facebook doesn’t show you recent posts, but for the website, I can just bookmark it as a tab to have it be easily accessible.”
Others found the idea of creating the website to be innovative, considering that Stuyvesant is known to be STEM-oriented. “I think it’s a really good idea and a perfect encapsulation of what Stuy students are like. Everyone wants to go into CS, so I think this was really cool,” junior Kate Alvarez said.
Few students have reported using the website to locate items; however, they acknowledge the efficiency and accuracy of the site. “I lost my red PJ pants and found them at the Lost and Found, not specifically through the website,” sophomore Eugene Park said. “After I found [them] myself, I saw a post about the Lost and Found link and then I went in there and saw a picture of my pants marked as found. I was [also] really fascinated about how fast they were about all the pictures and then the found/not found status.”
As for suggestions, some believe that manually inputting item data is time-consuming and could be resolved if more contributions were made by the student body. “Perhaps it could be more visually appealing [and] I think there could be a space for people to directly submit requests about things they’ve lost,” anonymous junior C said.
Being the only two people with the ability to modify the website, frequently updating the status of lost items poses a short-term challenge to Sevilla and Acuña. “The hardest part now is to update the catalog on a daily basis. [I have] to check what was added or taken out every day,” Sevilla said. “I’m also quite concerned because Tomas is hosting the website through his computer lab account, so I’m not sure how much longer he’ll have access to that after this semester ends.”
Though the website currently proves to be successful, its future management is still undetermined. “I don’t know how this is going to work next year since we’re seniors, so we won’t be able to check if there’s anything new or taken out,” Sevilla said. “One of our biggest needs for now is to find a successor. [...] Hopefully, soon we will be able to have other people catalog or add items, [...] particularly through the database.”