From MLTI student to international programmer

MLTI Student Conference

When it comes to computer programming, Chris Jones has become a global citizen.

A junior at Oak Hill High School in Wales, Jones has collaborated with programmers from Egypt, Brazil and elsewhere on a variety of ventures.

Article image: Chris Jones stands on stage during his presentation at the MLTI Student Conference.
Oak Hill High School junior Chris Jones speaks at the 2011 MLTI Student Conference.

His latest project involves working with a team of developers to perfect a web-based e-mail application called Crystal Mail, which builds upon Mobile Cube, a mail client Jones developed on his own.

Jones’ interest in computers didn’t start until he received his first Maine Learning Technology Initiative laptop in seventh grade.

“I started using it more and more,” he said May 26 during a presentation at the 2011 MLTI Student Conference. “I wasn’t afraid to touch a button.”

That fearless exploration helped Jones become an expert in how those laptops worked. By the end of seventh grade, Jones was teaching eighth graders how to use the machines. In eighth grade, he started producing DVDs with highlight reels from school basketball games.

“Everything you see on one of those laptops, I have used,” Jones said.

Article image: Chris Jones stands in front of a screen on stage during the 2011 MLTI Student Conference.
Jones speaks about creating a student-led technical support team.

Soon enough, those highlight reels led to websites, podcasts and the formation of a student team to provide technical support.

“We were exploring everything we could imagine,” Jones said.

The website Jones started in eighth grade is what he eventually used to launch his programming career – a career that’s generated attention from Apple and made a name for himself in the world of open-source software development.

Article image: Chris Jones speaks with Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, left, speaks with Jones after the Oak Hill High School junior's presentation.

In the process, Jones has learned some important lessons.

“It is only you who will decide how much you want to do,” he said. “You can do anything with these machines. There’s nothing stopping you. There are no limits to the web, or technology.”

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