SBHS senior Luke Beatty

Beatty Creates New App

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Thursday March 16, 2017

Senior year of high school is usually a time when students finalize their plans for after graduation. At South Burlington High School (SBHS), students also have an opportunity to take part in Senior Challenge, a half-a-credit elective offered to all seniors. It is similar to a capstone project in that students choose their project topic, work with a mentor from the community who has expertise in a field related to the topic, and present the results of their project in a research paper.

One of this year’s participating seniors is Luke Beatty. His interests lie in computer programming, and he is making an app for the hiking community that will allow people to find hikes in their area, as well as post reviews and photos of hikes they have taken. He decided to create the app not only because of his passion for hiking but also because he says there are no apps available that are similar to the one he is developing. In preparation to write code to create the app, Beatty took a class in the fall at the University of Vermont.

The community member working with Beatty is Brian Leffler, the CEO of Instrumart, a company on Green Mountain Drive that makes test and measurement instruments. Beatty meets with Leffler every so often to go over code and set out a plan and timeline for the future. They also review the project as a whole to make sure he is on the right track. Beatty says Leffler has been very supportive, “I can ask him questions with any problems that I have with my development. He’s helped me get on track with narrowing down exactly what I want to do and how I should go about it.”

Beatty started the project last summer when he began doing research on the programming language he would have to learn. At this stage of his project, his main focus is writing code with a new interface called xcode, which is used to develop apps for apple products. Beatty says it is time consuming but also rewarding because he cannot wait to see the finished product.

Beatty encourages other students to take advantage of the Senior Challenge because of its valuable experience. He says, “I think more people should do it because it teaches you to be independent and have a sense of accomplishment that you wouldn’t get outside of Senior Challenge.”

SBHS juniors who are interested in doing their own Senior Challenge, should contact Nancy LaVarnway, coordinator of the SBHS Career Development Center, at

SOURCE: Amelia Charbonneau, SBHS CDC Correspondent