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Students awarded for real-world application of technology

These students from RCHS invented an app that allows users to view all of their school and learning tools together in one place.  The app won best in region and best in state at a recent contest.  Left to right, top row: Ryan Vandersmith, Sam Ware, Jon Meade; middle row: Owen Vandersmith, and Kyler Barker (faculty advisor); front row: Tina Gilbert.

By Rachael Zetwick; photo courtesy of Ryan Vandersmith

Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) had a great start to the new year as the Technology Student Association (TSA) won best in region and best in state in the Verizon App challenge for their app called “School in One.”  The five team members – Ryan Vandersmith, Tina Gilbert, Jon Meade, Sam Ware, and Owen Vandersmith, ranging from freshman to juniors, and RCHS faculty advisor Kyler Barker combined what they considered to be the best features of various learning organization and help tools they already use in school, such as Schoology, Infinite Campus, and traditional planners, to create a new app to help students succeed.

“We began working on the Verizon App Challenge submission around September, but the idea has been in the back of our heads for several years now,” said Ryan Vandersmith, a junior at RCHS and a Castle Pines resident since the fifth grade.

TSA is an organization where students focus their time on various technical projects to work toward conferences at both the state and national level.  They present the projects they have worked on throughout the year at these conferences.  However, their submission to the Verizon App Challenge was officially separate from TSA, but was related to the organization as sponsors have equally contributed to the success of both the club and the app project.

School in One does not stop at the state level.  The app has the chance to move on to the Fan Favorite level if they receive enough text votes.  One hundred other teams have made it to this level, and all are hoping to receive a $15,000 technology grant as well as the help of MIT developers who will aid them to get to the next stage of implementing the app to be used by students across the country.  

“[If the team were to win,] the plan is to use the money to improve the funding for STEM clubs such as TSA and CyberPatriot, as well as catalyze the development of School in One, which would be helpful to anyone involved in education,” said Ryan.  He is very proud of the development of his app and has highlighted that many of his friends have asked if there is a way to download the app to start using now.  The app will be available outside of the testing group after the app is advanced from the prototype phase.  “We want the grant to provide our fellow students with the resources and opportunities they need to explore their full potential in today’s world of technology,” Ryan concluded.

To view the School in One promotional video, visit



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