Showing posts with label high school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high school. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

WHS senior places third in Maine App Challenge

By Kaysa Jalbert

Creativity was on full display in this year’s Maine App Challenge as a Windham High School senior, Alex Pooler, placed third among participants, winning a $1,000 scholarship from Tyler Technologies.

Matt Jones, software engineering manager for Tyler
Technologies, left, and Chris Webster, president of
Tyler Technologies' ERP & Civic Division, right, 
congratulate Alex Pooler of Windham High School
for placing third in the annual Maine App Challenge
for students. Pooler earned a check for $1,000 for his
app called Good Morning Class, an interactive
check-in app for elementary teachers and students.
Pooler designed an app that makes it quick and easy for educators to assess a student’s well-being. He created the app called Good Morning Class, an interactive check-in app for elementary school teachers and students.

He says that he started working on his app idea in fall of 2022. One day at the start of his junior year, he was talking with a primary school teacher, Mrs. Farrin, who thought it would be a good idea to design an app to make it easier for teachers to check-in on their students.

"Last year I developed Good Morning Class using MIT App Inventor, a block-based coding program,” said Pooler. He first developed a prototype for the app and then tested it with the help of Mrs. Farrin. After testing, he revised the app to better fit her classes.

“This year, I developed version two in Python, a coding language, and Kivy, a graphical framework. This was a major improvement and difficulty, as I was still learning both languages,” says Pooler.

Mrs. Farrin would use a Google survey to check in with her students. Although it is a survey program, its design is not specific to an elementary classroom, leaving room for user error and confusion.

Pooler said that he wanted to make life a little easier for teachers and students through his creation and thought it would be a nice project for his high school Capstone.

Jennifer Pooler, Alex’s mother said her son has always been creative.

“Alex has been making games since he was very young, board games, card games, which eventually led to his interest in making video games,” she said. “I don't think Alex thought too much about developing apps until Mrs. Farrin suggested he explore that for his Capstone project, but it aligned well with his interests.”

Prior to working on his Good Morning Class app, Pooler says he had never developed an app before.

“In my sophomore year I took a computer science class, but most of what I learned was on the fly,” said Pooler. “In between last year’s submission and this year’s, I took an online computer science class.”

After high school, Pooler will be studying Game Design and Development at Rochester Institute of Technology.

“I can't wait to hear about and hopefully see the projects Alex works on at RIT and after,” Jennifer Pooler said. “My hope is that he'll build a solid foundation at college to be successful in developing video games or apps or whatever he decides to create.”

In addition to the scholarships, the top 10 finalists of the Maine App Challenge also received Beats Headphones and are granted a guaranteed internship interview at Tyler Technologies.

“I was very excited for Alex to win third place in the Maine App Challenge,” Jennifer Pooler said. “I was already so proud of him for putting in months of work to see it through, but I have to say it was really special to see him recognized by Tyler Technologies for all of the effort.”

The Maine App Challenge is a contest hosted annually by Tyler Technologies Inc., a Plano, Texas-based provider of software and technology services with around 1,200 employees in Maine. Each year, students develop their own mobile software programs that introduce them to science, technology, engineering, and math, also known by the acronym STEM.

Prior to the contest, Tyler Technologies collaborates with the Foster Center for Innovation at the University of Maine to host a series of free workshops for students to help with brainstorming, prototyping, and testing their applications. According to its website, Tyler Technologies also partners with the University of Maine on a Fundamentals of Innovation course available online to high school students as an early college course that allows them to earn college credits while designing an app submission for the Maine App Challenge.

Since its inception, the Maine App Challenge has gifted more than $100,000 in 529 college savings plans to students in Maine. <

Friday, April 22, 2022

Windham’s Odyssey of the Mind team wins first place in State Tournament

Windham's Odyssey of the Mind team won first place in the
Maine State Tournament at Noble High School in North
Berwick earlier this month. Team members include Alex
Fuller, Fiona Knott, Rylee Prescott, Tori Leavitt, and Liam
By Masha Yurkevich

There isn’t much that can be hidden in small and inclusive communities like Windham and Raymond. From our sports teams to the best pizza place in town, information travels quickly. Yet what many people in the community may not know about is Windham High School’s first place victory in Odyssey of the Mind (OM) competition.

On March 26, OM students Alex Fuller (Junior), Tori Leavitt (Junior), Rylee Prescott (Junior), Liam Yates (Junior) and Fiona Knott from Windham, (Junior who attends a private school) went to Noble High School in North Berwick to participate in the OM Problem and Division at the state tournament. Many of the students have been participating in the OM program for eight or nine years since they attended Windham Primary School.

“Odyssey of the Mind is a competition in which teams from schools all over the state prepare a project based off of given prompts, and present it to judges,” said Prescott “This year, the Windham team chose ‘classics,’ in which we created a play based off of a lesser-known historical figure.”

The problem they selected this year required them to choose a lesser-known historical figure to be featured in an original musical production. They chose Peter Francisco, a Portuguese-born American soldier who fought in the American Revolutionary War. The team needed to compose and integrate three original songs to go with the storytelling of Peter Francisco's life. Along with original prop design, theatrical effects and choreography, all work was created and constructed by the five team members without adult assistance. 

Though the students are amazing, they would not have been able to get where they are today if it wouldn’t have been for their team coach, Dan Knott.

“This is my ninth year as a coach for my daughter, Fiona,” Knott said. “The students on this current team have joined at various points over the course of those nine years.” 

Over the years, he’s watched these team members create and problem-solve, and every year he’s been proud of what they've accomplished. This year, these talented kids have outdone themselves and earned some well-deserved recognition from the judges at the state tournament.

Since the ideas and solutions come from their imagination, Knott’s role has always been to help them find their way to make it a realized product.

“Now, the team brings a level of focus and maturity where I can take a step back and watch them bring about the reality they seek,” said Knott. “These kids will do amazing things.” 

Prescott said the camaraderie of the group appeals to her.

I am part of Odyssey of the Mind because the idea of working with friends to solve problems sounded fun,” she said. “So far, I am very glad that I joined, as the team building, problems and friendships have been so worth it.”

After winning the state tournament, the team’s next step will be to compete in the OM Worlds competition next month in Iowa.

In Odyssey of the Mind Worlds, you compete not only against other winners from your own state, but with people from all over the world, hence the name,” said Prescott. “Worlds will provide a ton of experience with other people and is a great opportunity to take.”

If Windham’s OM raises enough money to compete in the world finals, they will be traveling to Ames, Iowa where Iowa State University is hosting the 2022 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. They will depart on Tuesday, May 24 to attend the event from May 25 through May 28.  

“Our team has to pay for the airfare, shuttles and prop shipping as well as the room and board on campus,” said Knott. “All told, our target cost for the team and chaperones will be close to $10,000.”

The Windham High School OM team will be doing a number of fundraisers such as bottle drives to raise money to fund the trip. Donations will gladly be accepted.

To donate, Windham High School has set up an account to accept donations for the team. Send check or money to: Windham High School, Attention Odyssey of the Mind, 406 Gray Rd, Windham, ME 04062. There is also a GoFundMe at the following link

For more information about Windham’s OM program, contact Coach Dan Knott at <

Friday, June 19, 2020

Raymond banners pay tribute to town’s graduating seniors

Raymond honored 2020 high school
graduates from the town by putting
up 49 banners recognizing their
academic achievements.
By Ed Pierce

It was a year like no other in history for high school students this year, but a kind gesture has lifted spirits and inspired some lasting memories for 49 graduating seniors from the Town of Raymond.

Starting on the weekend following graduation, motorists driving through town on Route 302 found individual banners containing the names of all 49 of the town’s graduating seniors affixed to light posts throughout Raymond.

During a recent Raymond Select Board meeting, a proposal was made to do something different this year to recognize graduates from the town after traditional rites of passage for graduating seniors such as the Senior Prom and the annual commencement ceremony were scrapped as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We felt these graduates needed something after everything that’s happened in the past few months because of the coronavirus,” said Teresa Sadak of the Raymond Select Board. “And we wanted it to be for all graduating seniors from our town and not just those who graduated from Windham High School. We first looked at having signs made, but signs seemed rather ordinary. The banners were a better idea and the select board members agreed.”
In all, the town had 51 sturdy vinyl banners produced by Time4Printing in Windham, with the two additional signs saluting the Class of 2020 placed on utility poles on Route 302 near the town lines with Casco and Windham entering Raymond.

Names of the graduates were confirmed by town officials and then double-checked to ensure that they were spelled properly prior to the production process. It only took Time4Printing employees about week to create the banners and then give them to the town to be unfurled on graduation weekend. 

“These young people are indeed our future and they have worked 12 or 13 years to reach this point in school,” Sadak said. “It’s just a shame that they had to go through this and miss so many school activities before their graduation. This small gesture by the town is intended to show them that we have noticed all of their hard work to get to where they are today and we wanted to honor and recognize them with something they would always remember.”

Sadak said that once everyone has had a chance to view the banners, they will be given to each of the 49 graduates in recognition of their academic accomplishments in high school.
“They didn’t have a prom or even got to experience Senior Day,” Sadak said. “This is our way of saying congratulations to them and to show our town’s gratitude and appreciation for their achievement.”

Sadak said feedback she’s received for the effort has been entirely positive.

“The parents have told me how proud they are and have been very grateful to see this recognition,” she said. “One of the 49 graduates attended Oxford High School and she was amazed that she was honored in this way by us.”

According to Sadak, the fiberglass and aluminum mounts for the banners will be stored for use again in Raymond in the future.

“We could use them for holiday banners, for election banners or any variety of purposes,” she said. <