Parishioner Highlight: Myah Whitney, St. John’s, Speedsville

Image Description: Screen shots from "Chatter," the app that Myah and her friend designed.Rev. Pat Kinney

Inspired by a sign on their playground at Newark Valley Middle School, sixth graders Myah Whitney and Addison N. wanted to learn more about American Sign Language. When they heard about the 2023 Congressional App Challenge and learned that the topic for the competition was different cultures, the two girls knew what to choose.

The two worked with a teacher to design and code their app, Chatter. Chatter provides a platform for people to learn common phrases and the alphabet. The girls worked with a former Newark Valley student who is deaf to further their app. Chatter includes video demonstrations of the girls signing common phrases. Chatter also includes an educational section, with information about why ASL is important.

After winning the local App challenge, the two decided to make some enhancements to their app and enter it into the national competition. They were anxious to hear the outcome, and even more so when they got an unexpected call down to the office from their principal one afternoon. Their middle school principal had gotten word that the girls had won the Congressional App Challenge for the NY-19 District. Chatter will be displayed in the US Capitol Building, and application fees will be waived through the ARTS Act if they choose to copyright the app.

The 2023 Congressional App Challenge is a nationwide competition that encourages students to learn science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills by coding their own app for any digital device. The competition was open to all middle and high school students. Myah and Addison will be visiting Washington DC in April to present their app to congress and to meet the other nation-wide winners!

Myah attends St John’s Episcopal Church, Speedsville with her family.

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