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Ball Academy competes in city-wide challenge

mayor's challengeFor the third year in a row, student teams from Ball Academy advanced to the final round of the  SA Smart competition. SA Smart, the Mayor's K-12 Smart City Challenge, gives student teams in grades 7-12 a San Antonio-specific smart city problem and asks them to propose a strategy, product, or service as a solution. This year’s theme, fittingly, was digital inclusion.

“The work that you are doing, the difference that you will make, the ideas that you are starting to manifest and the issues that you are addressing with your peers, family and friends are going to make a huge difference for us as a community,” said Ron Nirenberg, mayor of San Antonio during his live address to the competitors via Zoom.

Over the last six months, student teams from across the city have been developing solutions with in-depth technical analysis and market research addressing the digital divide in San Antonio. Teams competed earlier in the spring for the chance to deliver their pitch during the Mayor's Cup Competition Day, and two teams from Ball Academy made it into the top 10. The teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges via Zoom on May 21, 2020. 

“I think that it went well, but it was different because it was online,” said Ball Academy student Alyssa D. who was representing Ball Academy for the second year in a row. “It actually ran very smoothly and everything was on point regarding the schedule.”

Araceli Levet, Ball Academy library media specialist, has been coaching Ball Academy’s teams for the past three years. 

“The competition benefits students in so many ways such as research, real-world exposure, and presenting. But I am most proud of their perseverance,” said Levet. “They learned to not give up despite the challenges of distance learning.”

Alyssa said that her favorite part of the competition was the topic of digital inclusion.

“I had never thought about it that much so having that topic made me go explore that and find that there are a lot of places and people struggling with this, more than I knew,” said Alyssa. “It gave me a new perspective and a bigger view on just how much technology, how big of a role it plays, and how many people struggle with this.”

Though the two Ball Academy student teams didn’t place, Levet has a message for them.

“I am extremely proud of our two teams for making it to the finals,” she said. “These seventh- and eighth-graders initially competed against 52 other teams, both in middle school and high school, and earned a spot in the top 10. In the end, they came together and showed what Ball Academy students can accomplish.”


Mayor's Challenge

 Students, judges, and coaches interact during the teacher and student panel portion of the competition where
select students and coaches speak about their experiences.

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