Four Richwoods High School students will travel to Washington D.C. April 11 – 14, to
participate in the Congressional App Challenge (CAC) #HouseOfCode, a celebration of student
computer science achievement.
Mariah Cooley, Ruby Hirschmann, Shaelyn Johnson and Montreal Thomas, executive leaders of Peoria
Public Schools AppsCo, will present the App developed for the Peoria Riverfront Museum, winner of
CAC for the Illinois 18th District. The Peoria Riverfront Museum App enhances the museum visitor
experience by providing exclusive content and geo-fencing functions, improving convenience, and
creating a user loyalty program. The App also provides helpful data to museum administrators about
The students raised $5,800 to fund the trip. AppsCo CEO/Founder Alexis Khazzam, AppsCo COO/Co-
Founder Brian Michael, and parent chaperone Cheri Hirschmann will attend with the students.
Congressman Darin LaHood provided discount travel vouchers and Peoria Charter Coach provided
transportation to and from Chicago.
Students spend Thursday, April 12 on Capitol Hill at the CAC #HouseOFCode Demo Day along with
CAC winners from congressional districts throughout the country. On April 13 and 14, students attend
tech and STEM events.
AppsCo launched in January 2017 with approximately 30 Richwoods High School sophomores and
juniors participating in a seven-week, after-school Junior Achievement (JA) entrepreneurship course.
Students then officially created AppsCo, which is a student-run business that works for the benefit of the local community. The business will expand to include students from all PPS high schools by 2019. AppsCo has a typical corporate structure with a CEO group, sales, legal, public relations, advertising
and IT/software development. Upon completion of the JA course, students were offered the opportunity to work in the company and earn commission by helping design the content and selling AppsCo mobile
advertising. The mobile app provides Peoria businesses with a customizable marketing tool to build
their brand, engage customers and increase sales.
The CAC was formed to inspire, include, and innovate efforts around STEM, coding, and computer
science education. The Challenge encourages students to learn to code through annual district-wide
competitions hosted by Members of Congress for their district. Students in participating districts code
original applications for the chance to be selected for recognition by their Member of Congress, win
prizes, and have their work put on display in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The district-wide
competitions take place from July through early November. The CAC is executed by the Congressional
staff of each participating district, and coordinated by the Congressional Internet Caucus and the nongovernmental sponsor of the project, the Internet Education Foundation.