The Evolution of The North Hagerstown HS Web Site

For A full explanation of how to set up a website for your school, visit this link. The connected page uses this one as a reference to communicate its topic. Thanks.

Editor's Note:

The body of this page is the text of a message I have sent previously, but it has become the default response to "frequently asked questions" on the NHHS Home Page. So pardon my posting a "form message," but it does save time. I hope it contains information that you seek. Each reference to HTML has been made active with a link to a different resource on how to write HTML.

Feel free to send additional questions my way, so just click on Good luck in exploring and setting up a place on the Web. Please send our URL to other electronic mailing lists and Usenet newsgroups you frequent! Thanks!

 George Cassutto

How did it all begin?

The Home Page was born out of the E-Mail essay exchange project, where I would have the students write essays while I generated volunteers to review and critique the essays by posting a "call for participants" on listserves and newsgroups all over cyberspace. After I received e-mail addresses from professors, students, and average people who wanted to read and write about the students' work, I would upload the plain ASCII text files the students had developed from floppy. These were done in cooperative groups in our IBM lab. I uploaded/mailed them at home using America On-Line, but the regular Internet mail programs can be adapted to achieve the same thing. The idea was to get a wide readership and as many responses as possible. Students kept track of their reviews in a folder, and we would often discuss the comments that came to us from around the world.

Setting Up A Web Page

My best friend Steve, a programmer at Westinghouse (now Northrop-Grumman), suggested I should post the essays to a web site that could be accessed by cybersurfers 24 hours a day. It would mean one upload, and then we would add and amend the page as the year progressed. Steve uses the Web and writes HTML(HyperText Mark-up Language), the language web pages are written in, for his work, so he was the one who set up the basic directory structure of our home page. Then we spent six hours one Friday Night developing the pages. Here are some of the steps we took.

Please note the following:

One does not need to be connected to the Internet to develop web pages. In fact, it is best to compose "locally," meaning on one's own hard drive, before uploading your finished product to the web server. This keeps phone lines and bandwidth free. To compose locally and test one's page, simply activate your text editor and your web browser simultaneously. Then bring up your page within the browser to see how it looks. The editor HTML Assistant allows for this utility. Once everything is set, then upload to your site.

Finding A Host Computer

You will need an Internet service provider (ISP) who gives/rents web space on his computer. (One can also set up one's own server and place the data there). Then upload text and GIF files to the /pub directories on the ISP computer using FTP or any other downloading/uploading client (a fancy term for "program"). Our pages reside on the Web server of, located in Frederick, MD. Your local college may allow this, or you may need to go to a commercial provider.

What Does A Web Page Cost?

Frednet does not charge extra for Web space. To fully utilize the power of the web, your Internet connection should be a SLIP or PPP connection, which is also called a "direct" connection. It allows the use of Netscape or other Mosaic-like browsers, which permit the viewing of graphics as well as text. For educators, Netscape is free, and it is considered to be the best browser out right now, but many newer browsers are being designed to outdo Netscape. If you are using a dial-up connection, you can access the text of the Web through LYNX, but in spite of its speed, it lacks the versatility needed to write home pages and view graphics.

How can I learn more about HTML?

Any bookstore will have a computer section with books on the World Wide web and how to write HTML. The language is suprisingly simple, and does not need any special software to write. There are software/shareware programs out there on the Net now that act as word processors for HTML: HoTMetaL is one, HTML Assistant is another. The most popular HTML for many is Hot Dog, which can handle HTML 3.0 and Netscape extensions. It is available on a trial basis for 30 days. There are also many Web sites that have primers on how to write HTML. Start by clicking on the ever-ubiquitous Yahoo. All you need is there. Also, the text-based browser LYNX has its own on-line HTML primer and quick reference. Simply hit H for "help" to locate this document. Once can use the "screen capture" utility on the communications software to capture the text.

How can I place graphics on my page?

The use of graphics is one reason the web is so popular, but it also has a tendency to slow things down. When the NHHS website was first born, we used a simple hand-held black & white scanner to generate our own original graphics. You can also get stock icons on the web itself, CD ROM or from shareware programs. Just watch the size. We didn't want graphics that took too long to download. They are neat, but not everyone wants to wait for a 100KB picture of my school to download, especially if one is not browsing with Netscape, which allows for interaction with the document before the graphic is done downloading.

 The opening logo was a scan of our 1991 yearbook. We then imported the scan into Windows, and colorized it using Paintbrush. This was like microsurgery because any little hole in the black outline made the color bleed to the whole picture. Fun, but tedious. The faculty scans were cropped using a shareware program called Graphics Workshop. We just wanted the face, and this program cut the scan to the size we wanted. It also converted the .PCX file of the scan to a .GIF file, which is the basic form of graphic on the Web. For the first few months, graphics seems to be the most challenging aspect of webmastering, but just rolling up one's sleeves and tinkering is the best remedy for fear.

Since those early days, I have found that Paint Shop Pro is the best all-round graphics shareware program for school webmastering. It will convert almost any graphics format, and it is quite versatile in all its activities. 

You can find a  full-length tutorial on using Paint Shop Pro 5 and 6 on the Cyberlearning World website.

Can I get icons from the Web?

Graphics can easily be saved from the web to one's own hard drive. using the right mouse button, click on the desired graphic, and then click on "save this image as..." in the dialogue box. The image will be transferred to your computer for your use.

Please note the following:

Copying images from the web can be seen as a form of plagiarism. If a page says don't reproduce any or all of the page, then it's off-limits. The best way to avoid problems in this area is to e-mail the author of the source image to ask for permission to use the image in your page.

 The HTML code that embeds the image into your page is as follows:

 <img src="filename.gif">

 To allow text to wrap around the image and align the image to the left, add the attribute ALIGN=LEFT between the img and src. The attribute ALIGN=RIGHT will align the image to the right.
Example: <img align=right src="filename.gif">

Once my page is ready, then what?

Set up your directory structure. Our main page is a single file called nhhs.html. It has its own directory within the NHHS directory of the ISP. All other pages (because they have the .html extension) lie in a directory called HTML. All GIF files lie in the GIF directory. And all of these elements reside in the NHHS directory of our ISP's /FTP/PUB directories. One can also set up subdirectories according to the content of pages. One of our directories holds all sports related content, both HTML and graphics. It is up to the webmaster as to what form of organization is easier to manage. Confused? Me too. Just remember that most ISPs run UNIX machines, but these arcane commands can be made easier with graphical programs like WS-FTP, which requires a SLIP or PPP connection.

 One way to see how it's all set up is to look at the HTML that makes up the pages of the web itself while viewing them (which can be done by using Netscape's View Source feature). With it, you can see the URLs that point to the other pages. Even LYNX allows you to view the source HTML with the \ command.

What makes a good home page?

Find some cool URLs and embed them into your home page. I love the music of the Band RUSH, and there is a great Web site on the band. I found URLs for every LP and song I use in my Social Studies classes, so I created a section using someone else's links to demonstrate how to use RUSH in the Social Studies class.

Also, keep the pages dynamic. Surfers will come back to your page if there are additions and improvements as time and skill increases. Yes, maintaining a web site is a time commitment. It's also a great student project: an on-line yearbook, literary magazine, on-line science projects: these projects demonstrate the academic potential of your web site.

 We hope to be able to purchase a computer that will act as our own web server. This will give students a heightened sense of involvement. But the first step is to teach them and other teachers the value of the web and some basic HTML.

 BTW, North High's page is very basic compared to some of the other high schools that are entering the web. Maryland boasts the Virtual High School Project, started by Montgomery Blair HS in Montgomery Co, MD. That project is INCREDIBLE! Also, one of the first high schools on the WWW, Monta Vista High School has a web page that is a model for all.

 Another great way to keep up with the world of the Web and HTML is to look into any one of the newsgroups listed below:

UseNet Newsgroups

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*To HTML: The Language of the Web

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

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