Flash Features: December

PHS hosts first annual Major League Hacking Local Hack Day event:

photo courtesy of Graciela Elia

PHS hosted its first hackathon, hackPHS, on December 8, open to students in the Princeton area and surrounding communities. This event was organized by PHS Computer Science and Robotics club along with Computer Science teacher Graciela Elia. This event lasted 14 hours long, with guest speakers and workshops throughout the day. Held on Major League Hacking Local Hack Day, the students coded alongside coders all around the country to program an unique project of their own.

Lincoln Roth ’19, one of the main organizers of the event, hoped that the hackathon would be able to allow first time hackers to enjoy the hackathon experience locally and in a more relaxed setting.

“I wanted an event at our high school that would get people who had not been [to] hackathons to be interested. I hope students learn that learning to code, learning new languages, and learning how to do cool things with coding isn’t that hard. The goal is that everyone can learn how to code,” said Roth.

Students worked together in groups of up to four to create an application or computer program of their choice.

“I think working in groups, teamwork, is awesome for those who participate. For those who are organizing, they develop lots of great organizational skills. We did [conducted] a lot of rehearsals. You have to be extremely motivated, and the team of organizers were very committed, ” said Elia.

At the hackathon, collaboration was a key force in students being able to come together on a final project.

“Through the hackathon, I have learned teamwork and problem solving. With coding an app comes difficulty, but despite that my friends and I had a lot fun creating a project that we had a chance to work [collaborate] on,” said Sarita Raghunath ’20.

A hackathon provides an opportunity where students are able to look at computer science from a different perspective, rather than just coding during school or as a hobby. With a wide range of possibilities, students could create applications and games catered to their own interests.

During the hackathon, there was also a capture the flag event that included opportunities for groups to win prizes by decoding and finding flags hidden in images and text files. This allowed students to see a different side of computer science, rather than just coding apps or video games.

“[Compared to a coding class in school, the hackathon] is a lot more hands on, and generally in coding classes you are working individually. In this, it’s not just writing code, it’s also deciphering code,” said Elena Hertel ’19.

In the future, the Computer and Robotics club would like to create a similar event that will hopefully run a PHS hackathon for 24 hours, as well as smaller “capture the flag” challenges year round.

Social groups collaborate on flag-hanging project to promote inclusivity:

photo by John Liang

Over the past few months, MSAN, the Minority Student Achievement Network, and PULSE, a club that aims to promote Pride, Unity, Leadership, Sisterhood and Esteem, have been collectively working to implement a flag-hanging project throughout PHS.  

After discussion with the administration, members of both PULSE and MSAN as well as advisor Lenora Keel began planning the event. As of now, the group intends to survey the entire student body, as well as faculty and staff, to ensure inclusivity.

“We recognize and appreciate every group and every individual. We’ll continue to be tolerant and accepting of others, as well as starting a conversation,” Keel said.  

Once each student’s nationality has been identified, the groups will begin fundraising for the purchase of the flags. Flags will be obtained by mid-February, and hung by the PAC before graduation in a ceremony. Once hung, these flags will remain a part of Princeton High School for generations to come.

“We’re in a school, so we tend to forget where people come from. I think it’s really great to see a flag there. I personally identify as Mexican-American and it’s hard sometimes to come from home where there is Mexican culture around me, and step out to high school. I want to have a piece of myself and my culture in school,” said Brianna Silva ’18, the current president of MSAN.

In implementing this flag project, MSAN and PULSE not only want to have more cultural representation but also start the conversation on race and inequality in PHS. Lenora Keel, who has been the advisor for MSAN for 17 years and a PULSE advisor for 16, continues to work on issues involving diversity and equality throughout the school.

MSAN is currently focused on the representation of Latino students, but in the near future, events will be more inclusive of all ethnicities. The Black History Program, or Black History Cultural Celebration, will take place on March 2 in the cafeteria, as well as a partnership with the Geography Club in the World Cultures Fair on February 2nd. The week leading up to the World Cultures Fair will be Diversity Week, as led by both PULSE and MSAN. As a culminating event, MSAN will host the student forum “See Me, Hear Me” on April 28, spotlighting student-teacher relationships and student life at the high school.

MSAN will continue to diversify in its composition and its goals in the coming years as it looks for students who express an interest in bringing different minority groups together.

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