Sunday, February 25, 2018
Education

Jesuit High freshman creates app to connect school community

TAMPA — Only a month into his freshman year at Jesuit High School, Dominic Kynkor sat across from Nick Suszynski, director of development, with a proposal to complete an iPhone app for the school.

"I've never been approached by a freshman who was so confident," Suszynski said with pride.

Dominic knew the school was having trouble creating a mobile app, so he took over.

"Creating apps just sounded interesting and I've always been good with computers," said Dominic, 15.

Using the tools he learned in a programming course he took the previous summer, he worked weekends and late nights to develop an app that would make it easier for students, teachers and alumni to keep in touch with the school community. The app offers school news and activities, as well as admissions information.

"I'm honestly still confused how I did it," he said with a laugh.

Through much reading and researching, he learned advanced programming languages and made the app into what Jesuit needed.

Dominic not only had the school's criteria to follow but Apple's as well. After months of hard work, Apple rejected the first draft, but that was fine with him.

"My favorite thing is the more challenging scenarios."

Dominic tested new ideas based on his experiences as a freshman.

"I had trouble my freshman year because I would get lost on campus, so I thought we could add a map to the app."

Students aren't allowed to use their phones in school, so that idea was thrown out, but the innovation reflects Dominic's creativity and resourcefulness.

He chugged on and filled his nights with caffeine and Apple's Xcode, reporting back to Suszynski.

"It was growing and he was doing it all on his own," Suszynski said. "Now I'm thinking this kid can do anything he wants."

Peter Young, director of communications, also assisted in the project.

"I did extraordinarily little," he laughed. "I was involved in giving direction after he was 90 percent done."

Seven months later, it was finished.

During convocation, the big school announcements where all the students meet in the chapel, the Rev. Richard Hermes, S.J., the school's president, announced the app.

"I had an idea they were going to do something, but I was surprised," Dominic said.

Now, even during summer break, Dominic's app has been downloaded more than 300 times.

"To me it's the most mind-blowing thing I've ever heard about," Young said of the freshman's accomplishment.

"After only being on campus for a month with a vigorous academic schedule and athletics, he still wanted to take on this big project."

Suszynski shared the same amazement and added that Dominic had come to him in the first week of school and said he wanted to make an impact when he left as a senior.

Instead, Dominic made that impact in just his first year.

It appears the success will continue. Dominic attended a two-week programming course at Stanford University this summer.

"I need to backtrack and learn to make websites," he said before leaving for the camp.

Dominic said he also would like to get a team of students together to create an app to help the community.

"I am going to reach out to charities and local businesses."

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