We are pretty sure that when Chris Waugh (NCHS ’02) and Justin Bolles (NCHS ’02) met at Westlane Middle School back in the late 90’s nobody, themselves included, would have predicted their future shared success would benefit Washington Township students some 20 years later. However, listening to Chris and Justin share stories of their deep mutual history it is easy to see MSDWT woven throughout, and understand why giving back to the Washington Township community was inevitable.
Their friendship started on the Westlane football field where rumor has it Chris broke Justin’s arm during their first practice. “I think our coaches at the time would be glad to know we found a profession that doesn’t involve any athletic ability.” Chris jokes. Fortunately, the friendship was able to move past any alleged bone breaks and continued to grow through their time at North Central. And while the two have many shared experiences of their time in MSDWT none may have been more pivotal than the passion they developed for computer programming.
In 2010, Chris and Justin, along with another partner started Connect Think, an Indianapolis-based company that specializes in developing websites and mobile applications for small start-ups to Fortune 500 clients. The basis for Connect Think was formed during their time in high school while enrolled in J. Everett Light Career Center’s computer programming course. Chris joined Justin in the class senior year and they never looked back. They both attended Purdue University and studied computer technology where their time at NCHS helped them tremendously. Justin points out that “Because of MSDWT, we had the chance to take a computer programming course while still in high school giving us a year head start on any new programmer at Purdue.”
After starting Connect Think, Justin and Chris quickly found out that owning a business is very different from developing custom software. They found that the diversity they were exposed to and the experiences they had while in Washington Township Schools made them better problem solvers and business owners.
“The variety of people that we met and experiences that we had at MSDWT allowed us to relate to many different types of people that we work with in business.” Justin Bolles
As the success of Connect Think grew, the pair made it a priority to support the community where the seeds of that success were planted so many years ago. “Public education is about diversity and opportunities. Public or private, MSDWT has done an astonishing job for generations teaching and training the next leaders in the state and country. We are both second-generation NCHS graduates and love the opportunity to give back to MSDWT so that the kids growing up on the north side of Indianapolis today have the same opportunities we did.” Chris Waugh & Justin Bolles
While generous supporters of the Advancement Center for the last several years, this year they were ready for a more prominent role. Connect Think has signed on as the title sponsor for the Advancement Center’s two major fundraisers the BASH on November 4th and The Great North Run on March 10th. The level of support Connect Think is providing ensures not only the success of those two events but in turn the continued success of the Advancement Center in matching private dollars to student needs and teacher support in Washington Township Schools.
Alumni based support like that of Connect Think ensures that seeds continue to be planted in today’s students just as they were when Chris and Justin were in Mrs. Chamber’s computer programming course so many years ago.