Seniors continue Congressional App Challenge winning streak with sustainability app New 2 U

From the left: seniors Kristen Gallagher, Nick Martino and Zaina
Saif won first place in the Congressional App Challenge with
their app, New 2 U.


From the left: seniors Kristen Gallagher, Nick Martino and Zaina Saif won first place in the Congressional App Challenge with their app, New 2 U.

Avery Booth and Henry Frieman

For the past six years, CHS students have successfully coded their way to the podium of the nationwide Congressional App Challenge.

This year was no different.

Seniors Kristen Gallagher of Middletown, Zaina Saif of Marlboro and Nick Martino of Farmingdale won first place in the NJ-04 congressional district for their app New 2 U on Dec. 8, 2022.

“Congratulations to Kristen, Nicholas and Zaina for their incredible ingenuity and dedicated teamwork to develop this year’s winning app,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in a press release. “It is inspiring to see these talented high school students put their minds together and share their gifts to help those who are less fortunate.”

New 2 U is designed for sustainable thrifting. The app allows low-income families to donate and receive baby items, creating a community and support system for such families raising young children.

“We wanted to create an app that would provide an easy, sustainable way for parents to donate their kids’ outgrown clothes, toys, and books to someone else in the community that can put the items to good use,” Gallagher said.

Advanced Java teacher Laura Gesin, who supervised the coding process, believes that the app received top honors because of its charitable goal.

“I think they won because they chose to design an app that addresses social needs by trying to keep clothing and toys and other children’s objects out of landfills and connecting people,” Gesin said. “It builds a community and is a very socially-aware app.”

The New 2 U team has worked on the app since the first day of school in September, spending three months designing and developing the app. The students were allotted class time for this project; Gesin has implemented the Challenge into the Advanced Java curriculum.

“I feel really accomplished,” Martino said of winning the Challenge. “It means a lot because we worked really hard and spent a lot of time devoted to this project.”

According to Gesin, the app development project prepares these students for the future, educating them on aspects of technology that applies in multiple fields.

CHS principal James Gleason lauded the importance of technological education in career preparation.

“The more that you can know about technology is important,” Gleason said. “It’s not just a matter of being able to create art, it’s about being able to implement strategies to solve problems, and that all begins with coding in the background.”

Gesin noted the talent and work ethic of each student on the team as the reasons why they were able to secure victory.

“All of them are great. I was not surprised that they won,” Gesin said.

Gesin may not have been shocked at the team’s win, but Gallagher was pleased to learn that the knowledge that she has gained at CHS translated to a real-world situation.

“It’s crazy to think that we were able to build an app like this after only learning how to code sophomore year,” Gallagher said. “It’s so rewarding to see our hard work pay off.”