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App to bring MHS students to the bleachers
The sample homescreen of Cheesemaker Pride, a fan loyalty mobile app for Monroe High School currently in testing, shows the available features, including a "fan cam" and rewards that can be bought using points acquired by attending MHS events. (Image supplied)
MONROE - Monroe High School administrators are embracing technology in hopes of drawing more students and fans to high school sporting events and other activities.

MHS Activities Director Jeff Newcomer recently introduced the district to SuperFanHigh, a fan loyalty rewards program in the form of a customized mobile app. He said Monroe's version of the app is called Cheesemaker Pride and will be available "very shortly" for free to download on iTunes and other app stores for Apple and Android devices.

"We're really excited," he said. "It should do amazing things for us."

Anyone who downloads the app can use it to "check in" at an event - their smartphone's GPS confirming they are actually there, within a defined area such as a gym - which earns them points as long as they stay there for a designated time, Newcomer said.

Some events will be worth more points than others, in order to encourage attendance. Some may also automatically enter those who check in into a raffle. Events will be co-curricular and extracurricular, including athletics, plays and dances.

After users accumulate enough points, they can spend them on rewards such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and food from the concession stand, Newcomer said.

"For us, it's an engagement (thing) - of getting students there," said Chris Medenwaldt, MHS principal. He said he first thought of it as an athletic app but then realized they could use it for anything, even to incentivize students to attend on days the school holds testing.

The app also has features other than engaging GPS and getting awards: It can report results from athletic events, generate revenue by selling gear through its shop feature and be used as a social media platform - though an app administrator will screen posts before they become public, Newcomer said.

It will have a leaderboard for users to compete for the most points and a "fan cam" that will be able to post photos. Fans can check Cheesemaker Pride for the athletic schedule and event information.

If a game is delayed, or there's any other change to an event, a notification similar to a text message can be sent to anyone who downloaded the app, Newcomer said.

He also noted Cheesemaker Pride will be used to promote local businesses, which is how he's covering the app's annual cost of $2,500. Colony Brands is paying $2,500 to sponsor the app, and Fuzzy's Audio is paying $500. That will leave some extra money for prizes, Newcomer said.

Both companies, as well as any future sponsors, will be featured in clickable banner advertisements at the bottom of the app.

Monroe is the second school in Wisconsin to use SuperFanHigh, Newcomer said.

"We thought this was worth a shot, and we give it a year and if our kids like it and our community likes it, then we'll find a way to keep doing it," Medenwaldt said. "It seems pretty cutting-edge socially for us and for our kids."