April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Hauser students' run at app challenge ends

By By Paul [email protected]

Hauser Jr./Sr. High School students who took "Best in State" honors in the 2015 Verizon Innovative App Challenge garnered a respectable 495 votes in the competition's Fan Favorite category.

People had an opportunity to vote for their favorite cell phone apps in the two months that followed the annual competition, an initiative intended to encourage teamwork and originality among schools nationwide.

Hauser eighth-graders conceptualized an app called Speak Bot Pro that would let students who can't speak clearly because of medical, developmental or language barriers use icons to communicate verbally with teachers. Verizon selected Hauser for top honors among all Indiana middle schools, entitling it to $5,000 in prize money and a computer tablet for each team member.

The victory also made Hauser eligible for a people's choice competition in which text messages counted as votes. By the time all votes were in on Sunday, Hauser had fared modestly compared to some larger schools.

But class teacher/team leader Deborah Gaff was happy with the result.

"We certainly appreciate all the support from our community," she said. "Each vote is an acknowledgement that we are doing the right thing."

Team members, all from Gaff's Project Lead the Way class, are Skylar Sharp, Caleb Wasson, Chloe Kennedy, Parker Eickbush, Dillon Garwood, Kaalob Schmidt, Derek Stenneski and Ethan Wallace.

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