Early College Wins $2,000 Innovation Challenge Award

Johnston County Early College Academy students win N.C. New Schools Innovation Challenge at Research Triangle Park. On the front row (from left) are Georgia Price and sponsor Amanda Rowland. On the back row are Colin Garcia, Aaron Penny, and Raul Pena Cruz. Not pictured is sponsor Dawn Blankenship.

Four Johnston County Early College Academy (JCECA) students competed in the 2015 N.C. New Schools Innovation Challenge where they won first place and $2,000.

Juniors Raul Pena Cruz, Colin Garcia, Aaron Penny, and Georgia Price were all recognized by the Johnston County Board of Education on Aug. 11, for their achievement in the competition.

Students participating in the event were challenged to propose creative, practical solutions to real problems related to food supply or healthy choices. Teams of four to six students used practical skills including research, teamwork, and communication to develop their ideas for increasing healthy food availability or encouraging healthy behaviors within their community.

Nineteen teams from 11 schools submitted proposals and videos, which were judged by industry and higher education professionals based on clear needs analysis, innovative and realistic solution, level of positive impact, and potential for sustainability. Proposed ideas included an app for managing diabetes, a community garden, and a video game about healthy choices for students.

The winning idea, a recycling project using deformed fruits and vegetables to eliminate local “food deserts” (areas with limited access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods) was proposed by JCECA. The team won $2,000, which they will use to implement their idea.

North Carolina New Schools is professional services agency focused on developing high-performing schools and school districts. Since 2003, NC New Schools has partnered with districts, higher education, businesses and communities in every region of the state to ensure that all students graduate ready for college careers and life.