A group of Williston students, dubbed the Williston Wildhackers, banded together earlier this year to start a coding club and enter a contest, GirlsGoCyberStart. On May 20 and 21, they competed in the national championship online, facing a wide variety of coding challenges in a field of nearly 300 schools—and won!
Sophie Gontow Calderon ’21 started the club, and built the 10-member team to try the three-stage competition. “I thought it was a fun way to bring girls together into solving challenging problems,” said Gontow Calderon, a first-year Williston student, who had been involved with the organization at her previous high school.
The Wildhackers made it through a number of challenges in the first “assess” stage to become eligible to move on to the second “game” stage. At that point, school teams have to complete a certain number of challenges to be invited to compete in the national competition. The four highest scoring Wildhackers qualified to represent Williston at the nationals: Gontow Calderon, Abby Dennin ’20, Morgan Strange ’20, and Anfisa Bogdanenko ’21.
The nationals took place (virtually) over two days, May 20 and 21. “The students faced a wide variety of coding challenges and collaborated across the globe to solve them,” said Director of Curriculum, computer science teacher, and Wildhackers advisor Kim Evelti. In the end, Williston ended up in first place, winning the group competition.
The team plans to enter the contest again next year and use the school’s winnings (an Amazon gift card) to purchase some matching hacker gear, like blue-light filtering glasses, Ms. Evelti said.
“I am supper happy and proud of everyone on the team for their amazing effort and hard work,” said Gontow Calderon, who added that she and her teammates won’t stop coding just because the competition is over. “We had a pizza night on a Saturday when we just sat together solving challenges the whole evening!”