Oak Knoll junior earns first place in all-day Hackathon

Oak Knoll School junior Paula Sefia ’22 channeled her coding skills earlier this month and seized first place in Kent Place’s first-ever Hackathon, designed to inspire students, especially girls, to work collaboratively and improve their programming skills by building a functional product in one day.

The focus of the Hackathon was to “hack” or develop an idea from start to finish.

Sefia and her two teammates were tasked with coding a program called Text Adventure, which was an interactive story-mode type of game. Sefia’s game was coded in JavaScript and following the 12-hour virtual event, with all nine participating groups presenting their game to the other groups and judges.

The November 21 Hackathon participants also listened to expert speakers in the computer science field including Elenita Elinon, Executive Director at JP Morgan Chase and Erika Hairston, co-founder of Edlyft, among others.

“Oak Knoll has been so helpful to my growth of interest in the computer science field ever since I started taking computer classes in seventh grade,” said Sefia, who is current president of the Oak Knoll Robotics Club.

“I was exposed to this opportunity to represent OKS at the Hackathon by Dr. Talia Nochumson, my ninth grade computer teacher,” said Sefia, who has also been supported in the computer science field by US computer science teacher Danielle Coiro.

“Paula, who developed an app to provide daily quotes by Cornelia Connelly, has shown a keen interest and commitment to solving problems, especially technical ones,” said Dr. Nochumson. “I’m proud of her for representing Oak Knoll at this virtual event and I know it will inspire our students to seek out other opportunities to solve problems using the coding skills they’ve developed in our computer science program.”

Sefia said that placing first at the Hackathon event reminded her of the blessings she has received from learning how to code in her classes.

“I was able to use what I learned from these classes to my advantage when working on the program with my groupmates,” she said. “My goal moving forward is to enhance interest in the STEM field at Oak Knoll.”

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