Bronx students are face of Verizon campaign

A group of Bronx students have become the face of Verizon’s national campaign during Black History Month, designed to get minority students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

The six students are inspiring others after each achieved successes of their own—the team from Bronx Academy of Promise was a winner of Verizon’s Innovative App Challenge in 2013.

While in 6th grade, the team created a mobile application to help students learn math skills. They used a Greek mythology theme to make the multi-level learning program more interesting and fun. The project was named the best in the state, and one of the top ten in the nation.

Now in 8th grade, the award-winning students have gained confidence and become leaders in their school, said principal Catherine Jackvony.

The challenge was introduced to the school by a teacher who found the contest online, and the school formed two teams of interested students who came in early, stayed late after school, and worked on weekends to complete the project.

The winning team—made up of King Lewis, Michael Bonnah, Rokia Sissoko, Jhony Flores, Samuel Owusu and Sherly Quezada—were some of the quietest kids in school, said Jackvony. But they came out of their shells while designing and creating the app.

“Watching them work together was very rewarding,” she said.

Creating the app sparked a real interest in technology and design for some of the students, including Quezada. She is interested in pursuing more knowledge as she heads to a competitive boarding school in the fall.

“You can do a lot with it,” she said about the subject.

Winning the challenge also gave the team the confidence to aim higher with their personal goals.

The experience helped Sissoko muster the courage to run for student council president, and win.

“I thought I could do more,” she said.

Through the process of collaborating on the project, the team learned to trust their own ideas and speak up more. Before the project, Bonnah said he used to consider himself a follower.

“Now I’m a leader and younger kids look up to me,” he said.

The success of the team has had an effect on other at Bronx Academy of Promise over the past two years.

“The students in the younger grades believe anything is possible,” said Jackvony.

But the students hope that Verizon’s ‘Potential Of Us’ campaign, which will appear on television, online and in print, will help other young students try to accomplish things they didn’t previously think were possible.

“I hope the commercial will inspire people to do what me and my peers did,” said Flores.

“The achievements made by the team of students from the Bronx Academy of Promise that won the Verizon Innovative App Challenge perfectly represents Verizon’s ‘Potential of Us’ Black History Month national advertising campaign,” said Andrew Testa, PR manager, Verizon Wireless, New York Metro Region. “This contest helped them to realize their passion and unleashed their potential for greatness. That’s the essence of this campaign.”

Videos of the students can be viewed at poten‌tialo‌fus.com.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at jwill‌iams@‌cnglo‌cal.com.

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