sm;)e wins Rep. Harold Rogers’ 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Kentucky’s Fifth District

Rep. Harold Rogers has named Natalie Fite of Belfry High School, Reese Varney of Belfry High School, and Ian Belcher of Belfry High School as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in Kentucky’s Fifth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of sm;)e, the students said, ”The problems associated with mental health have been a growing issue in our world for many centuries. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the mental health of many has deteriorated exponentially. Suicide rates now, on average, are higher than they have ever been. Our application, sm;)e, aims to help its users better understand their mental health and cope with their crises. sm;)e works to succeed in this by providing users with encouragement and persistence from family, friends, mentors, doctors, therapists, or even strangers who struggle similarly. Our application functions to help people battling mental health issues find a way to keep going-sm;)e could serve as their light at the end of the tunnel or as a glimpse of hope.
Each of us having firsthand experience with mental health struggles in some way, our group strongly believes an application like sm;)e could truly help make a difference in someone’s life. Any community as a whole would benefit from using our application. People around us everyday struggle with things others would never know.
A person does not have to be of a certain age to struggle internally. Therefore, sm;)e can be used by people of any age, although viewer discretion for younger audiences is advised.”



The Congressional App Challenge smashed previous participation records in 2022. All told, 9,011 students registered for this year’s competition – creating 2,707 fully-functioning apps for 335 Members of Congress across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition set the record for most student registrations, most apps submitted, most apps per district submitted, and most districts receiving over 20 apps. The wildly successful competition continues to impress upon House Members the importance of computer science education and the need to develop a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent. 

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2023 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2023, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.