Press Releases

Today, U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers announced a team of four students from Prestonsburg High School as the winners of the first Congressional App Challenge to be held in Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District. The competition is open for high school students across the country.

The winning app entitled the "Kentucky College and Career Readiness Pathway" will be featured on a display in the Capitol building for one year. Congressman Rogers presented teammates Blake Ratliff, Jacob Pitts, Jonathan Dotson, and Michael Shepherd with first place certificates during the SOAR Executive Board Meeting in Pineville. 

"I'm so proud that our very first winners had the foresight to design a mobile App that falls in line with the mission of SOAR, to better prepare students for life after graduation," said Congressman Rogers. "I applaud our educators for implementing STEM-based classwork and challenging students with the type of high-tech design that is transforming the way we live."

"When students go their junior or senior year they rush themselves to become college and career ready. Our app helps students begin to form a stronger mindset during their freshman and sophomore year," the students stated in the project description. "It helps students by getting them thinking more effectively about milestones to college and career readiness such as; the ACT and ASVAB exams. Our app keeps students aware of Industry certification exams, or the KYOTE, WorkKeys and KOSSA. With College and Career Readiness at the forefront in our education system this has the potential to help students across the U.S."

The Congressional App Challenge was created because Congress recognized that STEM skills are essential for economic growth and innovation, and that the U.S. has been falling behind on these fronts. STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17% between 2008 and 2018, compared to 9.8% growth for non-STEM occupations and according to some estimates, the U.S. may be short as many as 3 million high-skilled workers by 2018. 

“We’re very proud of our kids receiving this recognition for their app concept," said Dr. Henry Webb, Superintendent of the Floyd County School Board. "We know that coding and technology unlock numerous opportunities for our kids to be future ready and we’re excited to see our students and our team seeking avenues that allows students to express their creativity in this realm.”

A team of judges from the SOAR STEM initiative certified the winning mobile application.

"The winners of Congressman Rogers' App Challenge reflect some of the skill sets necessary to transform the Eastern Kentucky that we are striving to create through our SOAR-STEM initiative," said Anthony "Tony" Campbell, CEO of East Kentucky Power Cooperative. "We celebrate their accomplishments today and look forward to seeing these students help develop a new economy of opportunity in SOAR."
"We are proud of our students in the Big Sandy region," said David Estepp, President of Big Sandy RECC. "We are excited to witness their development of career skills that will unlock a bright future of unlimited potential in our region."
To maintain American competitiveness, it’s crucial that the United States invests in our youth now, and helps them acquire these necessary STEM-based skills. The CAC highlights and encourages students to pursue those skills.

The Internet Education Foundation serves as the operational “sponsor” of the CAC. For more information about the Congressional App Challenge, visit