MHS students talk about award-winning app

Jan 10, 2018
The winners of the 2017 Congressional App Challenge: Marianas High School seniors Chenoa Bunts-Anderson, right, and Daniel Villarmero. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio
MHS students talk about award-winning app

Marianas Variety — MARIANAS High School seniors Chenoa Bunts-Anderson and Daniel Villarmero’s web-based app “The Student Companion” topped the 2017 U.S. Congressional App Challenge for the CNMI.

They said their app gives students a set of tools to help with their studies. The tools include a task manager with reminders and a relaxation page that utilizes calming images and soothing music to help students rest during study breaks.

According to Villarmero, the app helps organize students’ school tasks and allows them to “look back and see what they have done.”

In addition, the app has a “stress remover” that plays soothing music while showing scenic places. “Its main purpose is to help you unwind,” Villarmero said. “And the app can be accessed from anywhere — either by phone, laptop, or public computer because it is online.”

Twenty-two students took part, submitting 13 app entries in the CNMI. The judges are experts in computer science and they announced the winners in December.

Bunts-Anderson said the competition was “an amazing experience for us.” The first thing she and Villarmero decided was what kind of app they wanted to create. “I sorted out a list of problems I faced on a daily basis as a student,” she said. Then I asked,“What kind of app might solve our problems?”

She said the app is a solution to the problem of organizing one’s schedule and work. It also serves to calm down students who are stressed from school work.

“Instead of having separate apps to do separate things, we combined them all into one cohesive platform,” Villarmero said.

“We wanted a way for people to have easy access to all of the information they need on a daily basis,” Bunts-Anderson added.

Both students received $250 from Amazon and their app is featured on U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan’s website.

Villarmero said all the winners across the nation will get together in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2018 and will have a chance to talk with people from Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

“We were excited to win this competition, and it is a great opportunity for students like us,” Bunts-Anderson said.

For Villarmero, this was “a good way to test my programming skills — overall, this challenge helped me sharpen my skills as a programmer.”