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Programming a better future

Seniors+Andy+Tran+and+Monica+Nguyen+bond+with+friends+at+the+HackBI+coding+competition.+Nguyen+participated+in+HackBI+after+hearing+of+it+from+fellow+senior+Lily+Tso%2C+and+she+relished+the+opportunity+to+gain+computer+science+experience+as+she+is+considering+pursuing+coding+to+some+degree+in+college.
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Programming a better future

Seniors Andy Tran and Monica Nguyen bond with friends at the HackBI coding competition. Nguyen participated in HackBI after hearing of it from fellow senior Lily Tso, and she relished the opportunity to gain computer science experience as she is considering pursuing coding to some degree in college.

Seniors Andy Tran and Monica Nguyen bond with friends at the HackBI coding competition. Nguyen participated in HackBI after hearing of it from fellow senior Lily Tso, and she relished the opportunity to gain computer science experience as she is considering pursuing coding to some degree in college.

Courtesy of Lily Tso

Seniors Andy Tran and Monica Nguyen bond with friends at the HackBI coding competition. Nguyen participated in HackBI after hearing of it from fellow senior Lily Tso, and she relished the opportunity to gain computer science experience as she is considering pursuing coding to some degree in college.

Courtesy of Lily Tso

Courtesy of Lily Tso

Seniors Andy Tran and Monica Nguyen bond with friends at the HackBI coding competition. Nguyen participated in HackBI after hearing of it from fellow senior Lily Tso, and she relished the opportunity to gain computer science experience as she is considering pursuing coding to some degree in college.

Helen Heaton, Oracle Editor

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Hacking: the word may conjure shadowy fingers flickering across keys in an attempt to steal top-secret information. But among computer science enthusiasts, the term has another meaning—making a program.

At HackBI (Bishop Ireton) in early November, Spartans tested their problem-solving and programming skills against other students. The catch? The competition stretched long into the night.

“A hack-a-thon is a 24-hour coding event,” said senior Lily Tso. “So basically you go there unprepared and you form a group, and you have to make a program in 24 hours. Then you show it off to judges.”

Tso won the competition last year, receiving a paid internship at Decipher Technology Studios. This year, she returned in a new role.

“I acted as a mentor. I walked around and helped people with their projects,” said Tso.

Such projects were varied. The competition had a general theme, “oceans,” but competitors could choose to approach the problem from any direction.

“Some people made machine-learning devices to track ocean pollution,” said Tso. “Another group did some computer vision to scan beaches for oil spills.”

Computer science has recently gained ground at WS. While other schools in the area, such as Lake Braddock, have long had computer science honor societies, previously WS only had Programming Club, which suffered from lack of visibility and low attendance. This year, Tso—working with others such as senior Alex Santiago-Anaya—decided to bring Computer Science Honor Society (CSHS) to WS.

Starting the second week of school, prospective CSHS officers met to plan the society’s creation. Not only did they have to receive approval from the administration, but they had to gain recognition from the organization Code Virginia to reach honor society status.

The students’ efforts were rewarded when CSHS had its first official meeting in early December. Senior Brian Bui, for example, has already noticed the society’s benefits.

“Like any other honor society, you have a point system and everything, but what I enjoy about it is how it gives you opportunities outside of school, extracurriculars that you can do for the points that help you develop your CS [computer science] skills,” he said.

Plans for one such extracurricular activity are already being made. CSHS officers hope that their members will participate in HackTJ, another hack-a-thon that will take place in April.

“Hack-a-thons are just a really good place for experience and a good place to see where other high schoolers are at,” said Tso. “There are some high schoolers that are ridiculously good at computer science.”

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Programming a better future