CHS wins 2019 Congressional App Challenge


Lynne Walenjus

Seniors Vaughn Battista of Tinton Falls, Colin Martin of Middletown, Jack Hester of Oceanport, and Mike Cielecki of Spring Lake Heights pose with Java teacher Laura Gesin.

Meredith Prud'homme

Months of work from students in Ms. Gesin’s Java class for the 2019 Congressional App Challenge in New Jersey’s fourth congressional district paid off, as CHS came out victorious with a first, second and third place sweep announced on Monday, Dec. 9. The first place winners included seniors Mike Cielecki of Spring Lake Heights, Colin Martin of Middletown, Jack Hester of Oceanport and Vaughn Battista of Tinton Falls for their app, “Communitas”. 

Communitas is a task-sharing app that allows users to exchange helpful tasks with members of their community in exchange for viral points. They were inspired to create Communitas by currency exchange apps like Venmo, but with a focus on goodwill and incentivization of community service, according to a website post by judge Chris Smith. 

Hester explained that although his group put in a lot of hard work, he was still surprised his app prevailed over the 20 submissions in this district. 

“I was definitely surprised when we won,” Hester said. “Every group in the running had phenomenal projects and working alongside them and seeing all the progress everyone made was one of the most fun aspects of working.”

The second place winners included seniors Bella Matuch of Spring Lake, Jill Tracy of Belmar, Adrianna Poznanski of Middletown and Desiree Negrin of Fair Haven for their video game, “Spike’s Underwater Adventure”. Third place winners included seniors Neil Estrada of Middletown, Nick Chunn of Tinton Falls and Matt Emery of Howell for their app, “Green Screen.”

Technology teacher Laura Gesin said that the quality of the apps from year to year are consistent, so while she is happy about the results, she didn’t see the win as a complete surprise. 

“We had five very strong submissions,” Gesin said. “We had more submissions this year so more chances to win.”