LAKE TWP.  Four high school students from Lake Local Schools have earned GenYes certification this year. Juniors Trey Zeiger and Aidan Stalker and seniors Barrett Osmundson and Jaron Smith all qualified to receive the prestigious certification in November.

The certification was earned by developing required technology-based skills and using them in support of district curriculum goals. The four are among a select group of students from across the nation to achieve this certification. Lake High School had two students earn the certification last year.

According to the website, www.genyes.org, GenYes is a program that prepares powerful teams of Student Technology Leaders (STLs) in K-12 schools to work with educators, peers and IT staff to integrate technology in ways that improve student learning. GenYes is typically implemented as a technology class or club and requires a teacher or qualified adult to facilitate the program.

Frank Pilato is the IT GenYes Program instructor at Lake Local. He said there are four main criteria to earning the certification including the students performing 100 Technology Assisted Projects (TAPS) focused on students in the classroom, completing 15 team TAPS with other GenYes team members, helping at least 10 teachers and completing 25 hours of support and service for teachers, students and others throughout the district. 

"The four students this year completed a number of tasks including technology integration, break-fix computer issues, the juniors offered professional development for our teachers by teaching them how to use Twitter and many other projects," Pilato said. "Students assisted Lake staff and students. Plus, they helped teachers with finding the top 10 websites used by teachers. Other projects included going into kindergarten classrooms to teach them how to put together robots and then program them for use. The class got to work with EZ-Robot Humanoids. Students also interviewed with a panel of GenYes employees, including CEO Dennis Harper, to become certified."  

Pilato said his class worked with Microsoft HaloLens and wrote several apps for the hardware.

"This is such new technology that only 5,000 people in the world have created apps and programs this past year so this was a highly unique project for my class to work with," Pilato said.

The four students also had to go through a phone interview process with a panel of executives and others from the GenYes company. Osmundson said that interview lasted close to 30 minutes and that he was happy to have the chance to talk with the IT professionals.

"The panel asked me questions about some of my TAPS and projects I’ve completed this year," Osmundson said. "They wanted to know I how completed them and what I had learned. The interview was the final step. I got an email the next day that said they approved me for the certification. The group also gave me a lot of critical feedback that I’ll use in the future."

Osmundson said he believes the certification has already helped with his college applications. He plans to study computer science and game design and he says the certification will give him an advantage when applying for internships.

"I loved being involved with this program. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. The GenYes staff were amazing and intelligent. I’ve learned so much from them, from Mr. Pilato and from the IT staff at Lake Local," he said. 

One student who earned the certification last year went on to study engineering and the second student is in college for cyber security. Pilato said the GenYes program is just now making its way into the Midwest and Eastern states. He said the program has been on the west coast for several years and is highly regarded.

"I started the program last year with 21 students, I had 33 students this year and already have 70 applications for next year," Pilato said. "I think the program has been helpful to the district in several ways. We’ve helped roll out the 1,600 laptops in grades 7-12. It’s also taught our students life lessons such as communicating effectively with others and doing problem solving.

"I am so proud and excited for these young students. They have all worked so hard and are the best and brightest Lake High School has to offer.  I am truly blessed and feel lucky to work with students of their caliber on a daily basis."