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Saint Ignatius High School

Students Win Congressional App Challenge

Seniors Alex Gee, Jack Jusko and Victor Yavornitzky recently won the nation’s most prestigious prize in student computer science and will have their app, MyHighSchoolJourney, featured in the U.S. Capitol building. All three have been invited to Washington, D.C., for the #HouseofCode reception.

After months of very high-level computer programming work, three seniors have earned national recognition by taking first place in their district through the 2019 Congressional App Challenge.
Alex Gee, Jack Jusko and Victor Yavornitzky, who are taking an advanced Computer Science course taught by Pat Connor ’94 through the Mathematics department, will have the opportunity to attend the #HouseOfCode reception on Capitol Hill, where their app, MyHighSchoolJourney, will be featured.
“Victor, Alexander, and John’s submission was impressive in its widespread application for young people around the country who are organizing their high school experience in preparation for undergraduate institutions, community college, or technical schools,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “We had strong submissions and participation from across the district. Developing STEM education must be a priority for our nation, and the Congressional App Challenge is an opportunity to foster critical skills."
This accomplishment comes on the heels of an announcement by Newsweek, which ranked Saint Ignatius as the top Catholic school in Northeast Ohio in STEM education.
“We created this app by using the programming languages HTML, CSS, and JavaScript,” Gee said. “We then used a tool called Apache Cordova to take the app we created and deploy it for Android and iOS simultaneously. We started working on this specific app at the beginning of the school year and we finished up at the end of October.”
The idea for the app was conceived by Fr. Paul Shelton, S.J. as an easy way for students to track their growth in the Grad-at-Grad  throughout their four years. By logging all of their extracurricular activities and achievements, posting personal reflections and integrating photos and videos that showcase their experiences, the mobile application provides a complete portfolio for each student. Students, their college counselors and teachers could all use the information compiled when applying for college and writing letters of recommendation.
“In addition to the many technologies that they had to learn, the team needed to learn how to create a design from scratch, and how to run a project,” Connor said. “They’ve learned some of the theories behind Database Design, Class Object Design and User Interface Design. They’ve studied tactics for interviewing clients to solicit detailed requirements from them – something that’s not easy for even a professional.  They’ve also learned how to use the Agile Methodology to run their project.
“This is one of the most unique aspects of this project,” Connor added. “Once students graduate and get into the field as full-time software engineers, it’s not likely they will be able to work on every aspect of a software development project.  They’ll probably be put into a specific area – one of the 10 or so skills mentioned before. On this project, they are able to do everything themselves.”
More than 10,000 students registered to compete in the competition, making it the largest student computer science contest in the world—with more than 2,100 apps submitted. A winner was selected from each district with a participating member of Congress.

In addition to their recognition in Washington, D.C., Gee, Jusko and Yavornitzky will all receive a gift card from Amazon, which is a major sponsor of the competition.


Interested in more stories like this? Check out this feature on Michael Chime '17, a student at Yale, and his app that aims to help schools during crises.