By Sarah Wang
In our rapidly digitizing world, most teenagers can call themselves “tech-savvy.” One group of Arcadia High School (AHS) students, however, has taken the power of technology to the next level. Juniors Albert Yeung, Alex Hitti, Jason Zhao, Jessica Chou, Nathan Wong, Paul Lee, Seongwook Jang, and Tiger Ma have created what AHS has never seen before: Arcadia High Mobile. Arcadia High Mobile, one of the few high school mobile apps in the country, was developed to create a comprehensive overview of the high school’s happenings and includes features like “campus news, a categorized student bulletin, and a frequent notifications for deadlines and events,” offering a convenient way for students to stay connected.
The project all started when a group of friends decided to channel their passion for coding into one of AHS’ 57 on-campus clubs. However, Assistant Principal John Tung saw something more in the aspiring students and wanted to offer the young talents an opportunity for professional work as well as financial support. When they began in October, the students would meet up over the weekend or during any free time they had between their busy workloads, but the process was simply not fast enough. Thus, Arcadia High School’s own personal app development class was created. With possibly the lowest student-to-teacher ratio on campus, the class period provides the development team with an hour per day to work on updating and improving the application.
The work these students do is likely too complicated for the average person to understand, but in layman’s terms, coder Tiger Ma explains, “For the front end, Jason and Seongwook used a tool called Xcode to develop the iOS and Android app respectively, whereas for the back end, I designed and implemented an online editorial system for updating the content.” Aside from the coding work, the team also consisted of “two content editors, who edit the daily or even hourly content of the app, and three user interface and graphic designers, who created the entire layout as well as the majority of the icons and visual cues,” adds graphic designer Albert Yeung. As anyone who’s experienced the smooth integration of the application would know, the team’s effort and experience most certainly paid off.
Many may be wondering how eight high school juniors manage to simultaneously code an entire, functioning application and maintain top grades despite a notoriously difficult junior year workload. Coder Seongwook Jang answers: it’s simply persistence. “I learned to code when I was in fifth grade by reading books,” Seongwook recalled, “and Jason learned it on his own last year.” Additionally, with a plethora of online resources, AHS’ renowned AP Computer Science program, and the administration’s financial backing at their disposal, the team’s talent, creativity, and ideas were well-supported from every angle.
As for the future of the app, it lies in recruitment and expansion. Next year, the development team will be graduating and off to college, so this upcoming year is crucial for selecting the sophomores and freshmen that will be replacing them. Seongwook, Albert, and the rest of the team will be training the new recruits so that they’ll be able to maintain the app and “keep it running well even when we are in college and after college — we want to leave a legacy here” Seongwook affirms. Additionally, the team hopes to eventually cover and reflect more parts of the district, including the middle and elementary schools.
As technology changes, the need for tech-savvy youth like AHS Mobile’s development team increases exponentially. To all the young coding hopefuls, the team offers this piece of advice: “Don’t give up when you can’t solve problems. Don’t just read textbooks, but try them on your own. Finally, be patient and try new things — you never know where it might lead you.”