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Ridgewood students unveil community apps for Forest Park

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Forest Park and the surrounding areas are coming into the digital age thanks to the students in the information technology class at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood.

The students introduced their apps, which they have been working on for several months, to community representatives, including Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who was the civic partner for this project, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña at Oak Ridge in Forest Park on Thursday morning.

“So many people, even if you’ve lived in this community for 50 years or whether you just moved in a couple of years ago, you really don’t know all that Forest Park has to offer,” Crowley said. “That will soon change thanks to the information technology class at Grover Cleveland.”

In all, there will be five new apps that will service all types of visitors of Forest Park.

The first app, “A Tour of Forest & Highland Parks,” takes users on a trip around the parks and, by using GPS location, shows where all the attractions and facilities are located.

The app “Who’s Buried Near Forest Park?” helps visitors locate nearby cemeteries and find out where historical figures are interred through GPS location.

“Nobody really talks about the cemeteries,” said Evelyn Torres, one of the students who worked on this app. “We wanted to give visitors a closer look at them.”

Another app, “Forest Park Birding,” educates visitors about the bird population in Forest Park. There are more than 120 different types of birds in Forest Park, and this app will categorize them all.

“I believe this is especially useful for experts,” said Nelson Gonzalez, who helped develop the bird-watching app. “They can input their own information on the birds, and it brings experts and newer bird-watchers together.”

The students also created a geological app called “Rocky’s Forest Park Adventure.” This app brings users on a geological tour of Forest Park, including interactive earth science questions for students.

The fifth app that the students created, “Reservoir Racing,” allows runners to compete against one another to be at the top of the leaderboard by racing around the Ridgewood Reservoir.

“I really want to test this out,” said Gustavo Espinoza, one of the app’s developers. “When we incorporated the leaderboard, I knew it would get people involved.”

For the students involved, this experience was more than just creating an app. They learned firsthand how the technology industry works. They had to do extensive research on Forest Park and the nearby areas, work closely with community organizations including The Forest Park Trust, The Queens Historical Society, the Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance and others, as well as work with Grover Cleveland’s graphic design class to create artwork for their apps.

“This is as real-world as it gets,” said Andrew Woodbridge, the information technology teacher at Grover Cleveland. “They are actively involved in making this app. We want to prepare them for college and a career. They are doing the same things adults do.”

Fariña encouraged the students to work hard to turn their love of technology into a job that they love.

“Think about what you do after you leave high school and think about as you get to college how you make sure that this becomes possibly a job for you in the future,” Fariña told the students. “The other thing I am happy to be here today is I didn’t know this park existed. Now I will need to use your app to really come back and really appreciate it more.”

The apps will be launched and available for download on the Google Play store on Jan. 19, after the students take the feedback given to them by the community representatives and fine-tune their work.

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