Press Releases

Congressional App Challenge

Congressman Rogers and Belfry High School Students Natalie Fite, Reese Varney and Ian Belcher

WASHINGTON, DC — Three Belfry High School students are on Capitol Hill this week for the national House of Code event where their mobile app is on display in the U.S. Capitol Building. Congressman Hal Rogers welcomed the students, Natalie Fite, Reese Varney and Ian Belcher, who won the 2023 Congressional App Challenge for Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District. The students designed their mobile app, Sm;)e, to help meet mental health needs, specifically in Eastern Kentucky.

“I’m incredibly proud of this student team from Belfry for boldly using their talent and ingenuity to develop an app that addresses mental health, as the need for more resources continues to grow in our communities,” said Congressman Rogers. “From the Appalachian Mountains to Capitol Hill, it's wonderful to see our students shining among the best and brightest in the country." 

The Congressional App Challenge is open to all high school students across the country to promote digital coding and STEM education. The Belfry High School team competed against 16 student teams in Eastern Kentucky for this opportunity. The apps were judged by Congressman Rogers, leaders from SOAR - Shaping Our Appalachian Region, and the Rajant Corporation in Morehead. 

“Our team is so excited to be here in Washington, DC to represent students back home," said Varney, a member of the winning team. "We worked really hard to create an app that was functional and user-friendly."

"In our small town, we lack mental health professionals in our area and if someone needs help, they have to travel. So, with our app, they have access to hotlines that are available all the time and common steps they can take. They can also track their day and receive encouraging messages with the app," said Fite, a member of the winning team. "We had never created an app before, so it was definitely a challenge. We contacted people from Bitsource in Pike County for guidance."

The next challenge will begin this summer. For more information on how your students can participate in the Congressional App Challenge, visit or visit

To see more photos from the House of Code event in DC, visit Congressman Rogers' Facebook and Instagram pages.