Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
Innovation: A mobile app connecting the Cristo Rey community in Baltimore and nationwide
By Jeremy Chase-Israel
Photography by Chris Crews
When asked about why his team was victorious in the Warnock Foundation’s first ever Baltimore High School Innovation Challenge, Lemuel Bourne, of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, knew the reason: “I think it was our energy out there. The crowd really fed off of our energy.”
This fall, seven student teams across Baltimore – from public, charter, and private schools – were chosen from more than 30 submissions to compete in the Baltimore High School Innovation Challenge. The charge: develop an innovative idea that could be used to positively impact your community.
“I think it was our energy out there. The crowd really fed off of our energy.”
This past December, parents, teachers, and students from across Baltimore City gathered for the first ever Baltimore High School Innovation Challenge. After each team made a five-minute pitch, judges – including the Warnock Foundation’s David Warnock, Shanaysha Sauls, Board chair of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners, Tom Wilcox, President, Baltimore Community Foundation, and Pamela King, of Open Society Institute-Baltimore – awarded the first prize, of five thousand dollars and the chance to be featured in the Baltimore Social Innovation Journal, to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.
The project that netted Cristo Rey Jesuit High School their victory was the proposed development of a networking app. According to the team, which included Keynell Washington, Corey Hairston Jr. and Justine Midiay in addition to Lemuel Bourne, Cristo Rey supports a network that spans twenty-six schools across seventeen states but offers little in the way of community centralization.
This lack of virtual communal space means that alumnae have few options when it comes to connecting to their alma mater – at a time when a strong digital presence is paramount. Recognizing this shortfall, the students began brainstorming in September about how to best solve that problem.
The students’ research led to the conclusion that creating an app would be the ideal option. Not only would an application provide a space for current students to have their voices heard, it would supplant traditional, costly productions – school newspapers – with a resource that people can access via mobile device.
As the crowd thinned out, Corey Hairston Jr. knew the team had strong competitors, and that he and the rest of the team from Cristo Rey were on the road to building an innovative new project: “There will be some bragging – but it’ll be the good type of bragging, because the whole school won!”