West Salem student app idea among best in nation

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West Salem student app idea among best in nation

7:23 a.m. PST February 3, 2016

A group of students from West Salem High School is one of four nationwide winners of an app-building contest for their idea that would help students find a career.

“Kidspiration” is intended to

help young students better find careers they will enjoy and also find people in the local area to help them get there.

Jonathan Fredericks, 16, Lucas Plaisted, 14, Madison Plaisted, 16, Kara Warkentin, 15, Emma Fagan, 16, and Ty Brewen, 16, found out Tuesday they won “Best in Nation” for their app in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

Scott Charleston, a spokesperson for Verizon, said the West Salem team was one of nearly 1,000 high school teams across the country to enter. Four teams were declared “Best in Nation.”

Each team will now have the opportunity to work with MIT professionals and turn their idea for the app into a working product.

Additionally, each team will receive $20,000 for their school and an all-expenses-paid trip to the TSA Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in June.

“I’m so proud,” said Michael Lampert, the students’ science teacher. “They just took the ball and ran with it.”

The app starts by taking the kids through a fun, interactive career aptitude test, Brewen said.

Once the students see their job recommendations, they are given a map of nearby locations that do what the student might be interested in, further connecting them with resources, mentors and opportunities to explore the job.

“You can do career inventory until the cows come home,” said Toby Rein, an elementary school counselor in the district. “But then what are the next steps?”

The students decided it was a great idea to make an app to help with those “next steps.”

West Salem Principal Ken Philips said he is in awe.

“I learn every day from these kids,” he said.

The students, who were surprised during their lunch hour by a handful of administrators, Verizon representatives and members of the media, were excited, but a bit shocked.

“It’s all slightly unrealistic,” Madison Plaisted said.

Brewen said he is “really pumped” as they start moving forward with the creation of the app.

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate or http://www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist 

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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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