CRJ gets its app together

The missing link was obvious to these four Cristo Rey Jesuit seniors: In our world of super connectivity, our school community was a little out of sync.

“When you think about it,” senior Lemuel Bourne said, “a lot of our students rely on their smart phones – and not desktop computers — for internet access.”

CRJ's innovators brainstorm with adviser,  Mr. Henschen.
CRJ’s innovators brainstorm with adviser, Mr. Travis Henschen.

At the same time, our alumni are out in the world, studying at colleges as far away as Minnesota and New York. Even if they are as geographically close as Morgan State, their college world is different than CRJ and they may want to be more connected.

And — how great would it be to access CRJ’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all from one spot on a phone?

Enter the CRJ app, which is supposed to “bring everything we need to one place,” Lemuel said, and that one place can be accessed by a phone.

Lemuel and Keynell present the team's idea for an app.
Lemuel and Keynell present the team’s idea for an app.

Last week, this idea for an innovation brought Lemuel and his teammates Corey Hairston, Justine Mudiay, and Keynell Washington first place honors in the first ever Baltimore High School Innovation Challenge, sponsored by the Warnock Foundation. The team won $5,000 for CRJ to use to make their idea a real app.

Although all four students brainstormed about the project and what it would include, Lemuel and Keynell gave the five-minute presentation at the competition. Afterward, while the judges deliberated, the team congratulated the other competitors — who hailed from schools like Baltimore School for the Arts, City Neighbors, Dunbar, and Western high schools — not thinking that it would be the CRJ team that took the prize.

CRJ's team walks to the podium to accept the top prize.
CRJ’s team walks to the podium to accept the challenge’s top prize.

Mr. Travis Henschen, social studies teacher, served as the group’s adviser. Fittingly, he heard about the Innovation Challenge through Facebook and invited all seniors to participate in the competition – the more ideas, the better.

What drew these four seniors to the project, Corey said, was the kind of ideas the Innovation Challenge wanted to fund.

“[This project] had to be innovative. It had to be different. It had to be creative,” Corey said. “Even after all of that, it had to be reality.”

And soon enough, the CRJ app will be: The students will create the app and launch it next semester.

Baltimore's high school innovators!
Baltimore’s high school innovators!



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