LCHS Duo Honored for Coding Acumen

Principal Ian McFeat was in full cheerleader mode Tuesday when Katelyn Biesiadecki and Taleen Sarkissian stopped by his office.
The La Cañada High School juniors were honored last month with the National Center of Women and Information Technology’s 2016 Affiliate Award. The duo — who worked together to start the Girls Who Code Club on campus this year — were among the final Affiliate awardees representing Los Angeles and Orange counties in recognition of their outstanding aptitude and interest in computing.
“In 10 years, you’re going to look back on this moment and think, ‘Wow, this was just a small step for me,’” McFeat told the girls, who delivered him a trophy for the school to display. “I know you’re going to be doing amazing things. If this is something you want to do, I highly encourage you to do it, because right now you’re showing a lot of strength, so continue with it. You guys are blazing a trail.”
That is their intent, said Biesiadecki and Sarkissian, who use their experiences to teach their less-experienced club members about coding.
Biesiadecki — the daughter of computer scientists — took her first programming class the summer before her freshman year, which led to her interest in classes in such areas as advanced placement Java and honors Python, which have been predominantly populated by boys.
Sarkissian — whose parents are engineers — got her first taste in a robotics class in 6th grade. She really got hooked, she said, when she and a friend decided to build a website to play a game featuring mushroom people. She’s taken classes in C++ and Python so far.
“We know that not a lot of girls are in the field of computer sciences. It’s normally thought of as a ‘boys’ field,’” Sarkissian said.
Added Biesiadecki: “So it’s just nice to know that there are people out there who want to see us succeed. I feel like there’s a lot of stigma against girls, that we can’t do it, but this proves we can.”
“Not only can — but at a high level,” McFeat said. “Let’s be honest, they do a much better job.”

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