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Online Exclusive - Posted April 19, 2013 11:22 a.m.
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photos by Alex Mann

App-lied Education

Student-designed Amarillo app launches

Three years of work from more than 100 students culminated Wednesday as the Amarillo Tourism app went live on Android and Apple app markets. While most might assume apps are made exclusively by techies or corporate computer gurus, the youth of Amarillo’s North Heights Alternative School proved they’re capable of making one, too.

“A lot went into it,” says Eric Miller, director of communications at Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve been following it for about two years now. They came to me and we started talking about partnering and helping, and doing what we can, but it nearly fell through a couple times.” Thankfully, the determination of all parties involved persevered. “The kids are so proud of it, so we had to get it done. So we’re here, finally,” Eric laughs.

Three generations of students had a hand in creating the program. While some gathered information on local businesses, others worked with the app itself, entering and organizing the mass of data. The third generation of students was largely in charge of promoting the app and preparing for the launch.

The app itself is essentially a user-friendly, searchable catalogue of local restaurants, retailers, entertainment and more. The massive list features hundreds of businesses, and offers options allowing users to search by area and price. Businesses listed also include photos and reviews written by students themselves, and a map feature gives directions at the touch of a button.

While the app is finally available for purchase, the work is far from over. “You know, considering the fact that Amarillo’s always changing, this app is never going to be finished,” explains Maeson Hubbard, part of the third generation of students. And even though maintaining and updating the tourism app is a job in itself, that hasn’t stopped the North Heights students from taking on other projects as well.

“We have the AISD app which I’m in charge of, and we have some things planned for trails and recreation,” Maeson reveals. In the end, with the monumental task of the tourism app completed, most of the students were thankful that their three-year project was finally being put to use. “It’s the best feeling in the world – something that took three years – there’s not a feeling to explain it,” Maeson smiles.

“It’s a good service for our visitors, and it’s got the kids’ voice, and I think it’s a neat voice,” Eric contends. And while the app is a great resource for tourists and locals alike, Eric points out that students themselves benefit from the app as well. “The bottom line: Part of the sales will go back into scholarships for these kids, and that’s the best part of the story.”

by Alex Mann

Alex is a senior at West Texas A&M University currently completing his final semester for a degree in Mass Communications. When not working, he enjoys developing his photography skills, reading a good book and being with family and friends.
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