Winning Programmers Honored

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Photo by Lester Smith

Suffield’s star computer coders are pictured in the U. S. Capitol with the big display panel describing their winning program in the Congressional App Challenge. From the left: Gianna and Marissa Guzzo and Alexandra Smith. Along with other winners, their app will be displayed there for a year.

Three Suffield students went to Washington, D. C., on their spring vacation, but not for a holiday. As reported in the March issue of the Observer, Marissa and Gianna Guzzo and their team-mate Alexandra Smith were the 2017 Connecticut Second District winners of the Congressional App Challenge, a national program now in its third year in which about 4,900 students participated last fall. The Suffield team was invited to visit Washington on April 11 to 13, and on April 12, Demo Day, the House of Representatives became the House of Code.

Along with over 200 winners from 39 states, they presented their app to members of congress in a ceremony in The Rayburn Congressional Office Building, and Representative Joe Courtney of the Second District honored them with certificates of achievement. The team demonstrated their app to the lawmakers and pitched it to industry experts from the tech field, including Microsoft and Amazon, and participated in interactive sessions with tech leaders.

They were also escorted to the U. S. Capitol and shown where their photo and information about their app would be on display for a year, through the spring of 2019. Rep. Courtney’s office arranged a special pass for the students and their families to tour the White House. In addition, Gianna, Marissa, and Alexandra each received $250 in Amazon Web Service credits, a $100 Southwest Airlines gift card, and a Congressional App Challenge T-shirt.

Seniors Marissa and Alexandra attend Suffield High School along with the Academy of Math and Science in Windsor, while Gianna, a sophomore, is a full-time student of the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, also in Windsor. The team has been invited to the State Capitol on May 1, where they will be honored by the legislature.

Their “Feel Good” app, which required about 2,500 lines of code in its creation, targeted those struggling with anxiety, depression, and stress, providing soothing techniques with well-chosen music, reassuring quotes, and relaxing games. This reporter, with a bit of help, opened the short informational video the team has prepared and found it to be spirited, attractive, persuasive, and very professional. In particular, the music was delightful. Good luck, girls!

The “Feel Good” teaser can be found at

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