The members of the Cumberland County Public School Board, at the January 28, 2019 meeting, recognized three freshmen from Cumberland High School who were named winners in the 2018 Congressional App Challenge for Virginia’s Fifth District. Winners were Jessica Kotulak, Patricia Murrill, and Emilia Czeizinger, who created an app called Cat's Big Adventure.
According to a press release by the Office of U. S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, “The Congressional App Challenge was established by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 as a nationwide event which invites middle and high school students from all participating Congressional districts to compete as individuals or groups up to four. Students work to create and present an original software application, or ‘app,’ for a mobile, tablet, or computer platform of their choosing. The contest is modeled after the long-successful Congressional Art Competition and is designed to promote innovation and engagement in STEM education fields.”
The students created their app as a project in their Dual Enrollment Computer Literacy Class. Mrs. Mary Larson, who teaches the class, stated that the students “created Cat's Big Adventure in a program that they had no experience with prior to the Congressional App Challenge. They learned it quickly and just took off and ran with it—coding, testing, debugging, and retesting. These young ladies worked amazingly well as a team and I was extremely impressed with the way that they played to their personal strengths and assigned themselves roles that truly contributed to their success as a whole. They have told me that they are already starting to think about what they will create for next year's Congressional App Challenge. We are all very proud of them!”
Student Emilia Czeizinger said, “I was the main coder in our group. At home, I have two precious cats named Willow and Munchago. They were possibly the biggest inspiration for me while making this. Our group was able to work well together because we are great friends and have good chemistry.”
Jessica Kotulak, who described herself as a tester/debugger for the group, noted, “I believe our group worked well together due to the strong friendship between all of us.”
The third member of the group, Patricia Murrill, also described herself as a tester/debugger. She stated, “I usually spend most of my free time working on self-made projects. It also took us some time to come up with an idea for what to do, but we eventually did—the three of us have been good friends for a few years now and work well together.”
Two other students--Kristen Caleb and Aryanna McCoy—won third place for their development of Unicorn Jumpy.
It was noted that the participation in the 2018 App Challenge had doubled from last year and that winning apps will be placed on display in the U.S. Capitol alongside other winners from the nation.
Cumberland winners in the 2018 Congressional App Challenge include Jessica Kotulak, Patricia Murrill, and Emilia Czeizinger.