Hayes team to visit NASA Space Center


Next month, a team of five Hayes High School students will travel to Houston, Texas, to present the app they developed as part of a contest held by NASA.

The team, which submitted the app for the contest last year and found out in January it had made it to the next round of the competition, consists of seniors Adam Fronduti, Paul Gabel, Jacob Payne and Meg Wolf, as well as junior Rosemary Cranston.

On Feb. 28, the team and their advisor, math teacher Joanne Meyer, gathered in Principal Ric Stranges’ office to watch the video released by NASA that discussed the project and announced the three teams that would be visiting NASA next month to present the apps they created.

Wolf said many people throughout the school were aware of the video’s release and must have skipped to the end because she received numerous messages about the video while she was still watching it. Wolf said NASA put the announcement of the winning teams right at the end of the 10-minute video.

“It gave me a chance to get my heart rate to 135,” Wolf joked. “I was getting texts before we got to the end of the video and was just like, ‘don’t look.’ We walked out, and it felt insane.”

The team from Hayes will join the team from Edison Academy in Edison, New Jersey, and the team from Fairmont Preparatory Academy in Anaheim, California, at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston April 12-14.

Wolf said she was surprised to have reached the same level as the two other schools, which are both private schools.

“It was just crazy,” she said. “We saw the other two teams announced and saw what they did and thought there was no chance. When we saw (our names), we were freaking out. We were really the odd man out. We’re just a public school.”

Fronduti said making it to the next level was “surreal,” and he’s thankful for Meyer and Mikel Cvetanovic, a Hayes alumni from the class of 1981 and spacecraft slight software engineer, who helped advise the students during the project.

“A lot of the other schools had more built-in resources, which shows how valuable it was for us to have Mikel and (Meyer),” Fronduti said. ‘We worked hard but couldn’t have done it without them”

Payne said NASA even put a drum roll in the video before finally announcing their team’s admittance.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was completely unreal.”

Cranston said members of the team couldn’t contain their excitement when they saw the announcement.

“As soon as we heard it, we started screaming,” she said.

Gabel said the team has been working on the app for the last month just to make it even better before the presentation.

The seniors added they even skipped class the Thursday before Presidents’ Day last month to work on the app.

“(NASA)’s initial reaction to the app was really good,” Wolf said. “I’m excited to go there with our full potential and see if it impresses them. We’re already neck-deep in meetings.”

Meyer said she hasn’t received an itinerary for the event yet, but she’s proud of the team for getting invited to Houston.

“After the tears, I was just so proud,” Meyer said. “This has been an amazing group. They worked so hard, and they were so creative throughout the process. It’s just amazing.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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