New London school system taking to airwaves

New London - As it transitions into an all-magnet school district, the city's school system is marketing itself to attract and retain students. This week, a television commercial touting the district's array of magnet school offerings debuted.

The commercial first aired Wednesday night on WFSB, during the program "Entertainment Tonight," and it will continue to run on that station at various times until mid-February.

"We decided to air it on Channel 3 because it has the maximum reach of all the Connecticut TV stations with approximately 56,000 homes tuning in," Julianne Hanckel, the district's communications manager, said. "That is a lot of people who will see our commercial."

To maximize the magnet school funding the district receives from the state, at least 25 percent of the student population will be students from outside New London. But, as the magnet name suggests, the school system must attract those students and persuade them to enroll at a New London magnet school.

On weekdays, the 30-second spot will air during Eyewitness News and CBS This Morning between 5 and 9 a.m. It will also air during the 7 to 9 a.m. Eyewitness News broadcasts on Saturdays and Sundays.

The district, though, is not relying on television alone to get its message out. A radio ad for the Science and Technology Magnet High School aired in December on 105.5 FM, and another ad for the Winthrop Elementary Magnet School and Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School is airing on the station now.

The ads promote program offerings at the schools and advises listeners to go online for open house dates.

"We're looking at the possibility of running a third commercial in Spanish to advertise the program offerings, not only at Winthrop and Nathan Hale, but at Jennings Elementary School as well," Hanckel said.

The district also uses social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to keep students, parents and teachers informed and to increase public visibility of the district, Hanckel said.

"Social media is quickly becoming a way for us to share updates within schools, pictures and videos with the public," she said. "We have seen a great growth of our page since August."

Ahead of a particularly cold day earlier this month, the district posted an advisory on its Facebook page to remind parents to bundle their children up for the walk or bus ride to school. More than 3,000 people viewed the post that day, and an additional 1,800 people checked the district Facebook page,, the next day.

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