Cranston High School East administrators learned Dec. 7 that the school was chosen to receive a $10,000 prize from Code.org to assist in the implementation of a Computer Science Career and Technical …
Cranston High School East administrators learned Dec. 7 that the school was chosen to receive a $10,000 prize from Code.org to assist in the implementation of a Computer Science Career and Technical program.
After a lengthy application process spearheaded by Assistant Principal Kaitlin Hitchings, she learned that East was the Rhode Island secondary school chosen to receive this award. Code.org chose one elementary and one secondary school in each state and U.S. territory to be awarded this prize.
The program will focus primarily on coding and programming, allowing enrolled students the opportunity to take two Advanced Placement courses in the concentration as well as two dual-enrollment courses taught in conjunction with the University of Rhode Island.
Students, administration and the Cranston School Department all expressed excitement about adding a Computer Science concentration to the curriculum.
“Our schools are always expanding our teaching and learning initiatives in an effort to stay on the cutting edge of 21st century education,” noted Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse. “We want to graduate students who are college and career ready, and this prize will help us to continue to offer outstanding opportunities to our students.”
A recognition ceremony was held on Dec. 14, after Cranston East’s Hour of Code, an initiative by Code.org encouraging educational institutions to take 60 minutes to focus students solely on computer science-based activities. The Hour of Code generally takes place during Computer Science Education Week, between Dec. 5 and 11, and is described as a “call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners in the field.”
Fifth-grade students from Dutemple Elementary School visited Cranston East to participate in East’s Hour of Code. Computer science-related stations were set up in different areas of the school, demonstrating various coding and programming skills. Dutemple’s fifth graders, with the assistance of current Cranston East students, moved from station to station to participate in each coding and programming activity.
Among the students’ favorites were the ‘Dance Party’ and ‘Minecraft’ activities.
Following the Hour of Code activities, Cranston East CTE students and Dutemple’s fifth graders attended a presentation announcing and celebrating Cranston East’s $10,000 prize. The presentation included words of welcome and congratulations by Cranston East Principal Thomas Barbieri, a short speech by Code.org’s Director of Policy, Hanna Weissman, a discussion about computer science with Dutemple students led by Hitchings and a few short videos from Code.org.
Code.org’s CEO, Hadi Partovi, was featured in the first video and urged viewers from underrepresented groups to get excited about computer science.
“Computer science is fundamental,” Partovi shared via video. “It teaches creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. And it can lead to life-changing and economic opportunities, whether in a technology career or not.”
“I hope to see every student enrolled in a CS class, especially young women and students from historically underrepresented groups,” he concluded.
Hitchings stated that the new computer science CTE pathway will be open to students in the fall, and applications are open now until January for rising ninth graders.
“The computer science program is a program that will only be at East, which we’re really excited about because I think it will attract students from different schools and communities, who might not have necessarily put Cranston East on their list of places they wanted to go for high school,” Hitchings said.
Since the award is classified as a prize, the school is now tasked with creating a ‘wish list’ of technology-related items for the school, submitting that list to Code.org, and Code.org will purchase and have the items delivered to the school.
Hitchings explained that a room in the library is slated to be converted into the computer science space, pending Department of Education approval. In addition to the computer science pathway, the school also intends to kick off an Audio and Sound Engineering Pathway as well as Educational Pathways, which focuses on child development.
Cranston High School East held its ‘Be a Bolt’ Open House on Dec. 4, where the school presented its Career and Technical Education offerings. Hitchings noted the event as a “great success,” drawing students from eastern and western Cranston as well as other areas of the state.
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