New Sapphire – Hot or Not?

By Brandon Bowers and Iris Santana –

The new and improved Sapphire program is now on line for students and parents to see their up-to-date grades. But here are some new features: you get to see your pictures, your semester class grades, also it shows recent school postings and now report cards are available digitally.

“I like the new layout. I like the fact that my mom has to look through it in order to look up my attendance,” Penn Manor junior, Zac Burke said with a chuckle.

“Ehh, I don’t mind it if the school wanted to change it like they did then go for it, but I just don’t like that my senior picture is up. Everything else is fine. The best feature is the report card,” added Kyle Black.

The new Sapphire Parent Portal has ‘My Backpack’ on the left side with all of your information under it with your last attendance, your transcript, letters and progress reports teacher put on for you.

“We are one of the districts that are in the advisory pool for K-12 Systems, the vendor that produces the Parent Portal,” said Penn Manor technology director Charlie Reisinger.  “We’ve been working with them to give them some feedback on what we would like to see in the next generation development as are other districts – Hempfield, CV,  Township, Ephrata, and a number of local districts.  Two of those have already lit it up, Hempfield and Penn Manor, the next generation (version).”

Screen shot of new sapphire program. Photo by Brandon Bowers

Also you get to pull up your report card online and see what you got without taking it home or the school mailing it out. It has your grades from every class and reports teachers gave you.

Penn Manor senior Rachel Shetler doesn’t like the new look.

“I think it’s stupid because I don’t like change and it has my senior picture which is really bad,” said Shetler.

Reisinger said the major changes include a “graphic refresh,” easier navigation around the site and “the big piece” the ability for districts to send digital report cards and progress reports.  He said the new Sapphire will enable officials to send all kinds of digital communication to families, unlike the older version that did not allow it.

At the high school level, families will need to opt in to receive a paper report card, said Reisinger.  Otherwise they will have digital access to all grades and communications.

“It’s a huge savings in paper and processing time for report cards,” explained Reisinger, who also observed that since parents can see their child’s grades at any time, it makes traditional report cards obsolete.”

“We’re kicking it off now so people can become familiar with the portal opt-in,” said Reisinger.  “Middle schools are taking a look at it to see if it makes sense for them.”

Like the saying, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” some students think the Sapphire should not have been changed but others like the fresh new options.