Seventeen girls from North Shore Hebrew Academy High School (NSHAHS) in Great Neck made history as the first graduating class of the Girls Who Code Club on Thursday, June 9, at the morning commencement ceremony.
A national organization whose mission is to close the gender gap in technology, Girls Who Code offers curriculum for clubs during the school year, as well as a seven-week summer immersion program. The club was initiated at NSHAHS this year by juniors Shani Kahan of Great Neck and Arielle Rothman of the Five Towns.
The two girls approached Director of Educational Technology Robin Wilensky at the beginning of the school year to ask if she would be the advisor/instructor for the club. As Wilensky was already running Females in Computer Science and Information Technology (FiCST-IT), a monthly roundtable to discuss issues concerning women in technology, she readily agreed. Kahan and Rothman did all of the legwork to get the club started, and recruited girls from all grade levels. The club attracted two-dozen students who currently participate in the program.
NSHAHS is one of only a handful of schools on Long Island offering this program. The girls learned Python programming in the first year and will continue to learn more complex technologies throughout high school. Kahan and Rothman mentor the younger students as they progress through the course.
With 75 percent of the students completing the course and the balance pledging to do so over the summer, NSHAHS considers this program a huge success. Girls Who Code has proven to be a great feeder program for the higher-level courses that the school offers, including AP Computer Science A and the brand new AP Computer Science Principles course.
“I am really pleased with how successful the program is,” said Wilensky. “The girls come at their lunch hour and work at home to complete tasks, and they are extremely dedicated and motivated to succeed. The Girls Who Code program has added significantly to our extensive computer science curriculum at the school.”
At graduation, the club students received a completion certificate and a small gift. In addition, the two founders were recognized.