AHS earns Top 3 placement in Congressional App Challenge for second straight year

December 26, 2020 | 12:09 am

Updated December 25, 2020 | 8:04 pm

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Engineering and computer science teacher Jonathan Leohr announced that a team of students representing Apollo High School — seniors Ada Parris and Kash Leslie and junior Craig Bertke — recently placed in the Top 3 in the annual Congressional App Challenge.

The U.S. House of Representatives hosts a district-wide Congressional App Challenge for middle and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science.

Every year, they challenge students to create and submit their original apps for a chance to win. Each challenge is district-specific.


Apollo participated in the CAC for the first time last year.

“In most districts, fewer than 10 projects are submitted, but in our district, there were nearly 50 submissions,” Leohr said. “This year, I was blessed to teach the Project Based Programming course once again. This course is intended to be the capstone senior year course of our prestigious Code Pathway. We are one of very few public education high schools that offer four full years of programming classes and this course is the crowning achievement of that pathway.” 

In that course, students are put into groups and tasked with finding a local need, working with real people and developing a coded solution to that problem. The students are put fully in the driver’s seat and tasked with learning new languages on their own with only minor direction and help from me as the teacher.

Leohr said the team of students identified a project and brought it to life through research, interviews and creative critical thinking.

“This group titled themselves Go To Technician, or GTT for short,” Leohr said. “They contacted a local company whose project managers are challenged with finding quality technicians for their various job sites. They are trying to track which technicians have certain skills, are located near the project site, are recommended as a result of previous work, and various other factors. Currently, they do not have a good system to either collect this information, sort it, or filter through it to find the correct technicians for each project.”

Leohr added: “The team of students is currently working with this company to develop an online database system that allows project managers to easily filter through existing technicians, leave reviews for the technicians, and put together teams to complete jobs.”

Leohr said he is especially proud that his students have demonstrated success in both years of participating in the CAC, as a team from Apollo also finished in he Top 3 last year.

“This is now the second year we have competed in this challenging event and we have placed third overall in back-to-back years,” he said. “Our students are thrilled about the upcoming opportunity to meet Congressman Brett Guthrie, when he will personally deliver their certificates. This experience is one they will never forget. It will boost their resumes and applications for years to come. I couldn’t be prouder of this team or their accomplishments and I look forward to continuing this path of excellence.”

December 26, 2020 | 12:09 am

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