New 'App Creating' class in Umatilla means more jobs for students

UMATILLA, Ore. - Downloading apps on your phone or tablet is part of our everyday life, but students in Umatilla are taking it one step further. They're learning how to create apps. It's leading to more immediate and higher paying jobs right out of high school.

This isn't your father's high school class. No teachers, just students and a computer.

"We have to look at what's next and follow the kids leads and look at what they are interested in," said Umatilla high school Superintendent Heidi Sipe.

And what's next is apps. Students at Umatilla High school now have the chance to enroll in a new elective course that teaches them how to make websites and apps.

"Instead of playing the game, why not learn how to create the game," said Sipe.

Students receive badges every time they compete a task or course. The equivalent of passing an exam or quiz.

"Start teaching them to create technology and to innovate and to design the next big thing, that's where we show the shift in education," said Sipe.

Megan Lorence will be a sophomore in the fall. And only two-weeks in, Megan is working on her 30th badge. 60 badges and she's qualified for a real-time job.

"Compared to other classes online, this is the one that catches my attention the most and it's a lot of fun to do," said Umatilla sophomore Megan Lorence.

Not only is it fun, it's competitive. Students can see their progress and how they are doing compared to others in the class. The site can also be accessed by employers, looking for future job seekers. Causing students like Megan to stay motivated.

"He told me I was in second, so I was up until about 11 that night, early that morning, so I could beat the person who was ahead of me," said Lorence.

"The idea of an employer being able to say 'this is the jobs I have available, who wants it,' and have high school students that are able and ready to compete, I think is exciting," said Sipe.

Helping students not only prepare for the rigors of college - but the financial burden that comes with it.

"Hopefully, this is going to be an economic game changer for a lot of our students and families," said Sipe.

"I'll probably go home and work on it some more," said Lorence.

The new program comes at no additional cost to the students. And the school district only pays 9-dollars for each student enrolled in the class. Two classes will be offered in the fall.