AHS Students Advance to All-State Coding Competition

Mr. Therron Telford, Brodie Gholson, Matthew Hughes, and Joshua Sharp
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Competing against 150 teams across the state of Arkansas, the Arkansas High School (AHS) Coding Team is one of 17 teams in the state to advance to the Sixth Annual All-State Coding Competition. Brodie Gholson, Matthew Hughes, and Joshua Sharp make up the team which is sponsored by Advanced Placement Computer Science Teacher Therron Telford.

Prior to 2020, the regional competition was held in person at the Cooperative in Hope; however, it is now hosted digitally on individual campuses. The testing material is released at 9:55 a.m., with the test beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m. The competition packet contains 40 rigorous multiple-choice questions and 7-8 coding problems beginning with easy problems progressing to very difficult. “We use a divide and conquer approach where one​ student will work on MC questions and another will work on the coding problems,” Telford explained. “The third student will divide time between the others as needed. Each team must then email their files in a specific format to be considered for grading.”
Prior to 2021, the top team from each regional Cooperative was chosen to attend state, but the rules have changed to the top 16 teams statewide receiving an invitation (but only one per school). The 17th team is the past year’s winner.

Telford said that their preparation largely revolves around what they learn in the classroom each day. “My instruction is differentiated, so from time to time I cover advanced concepts and/or topics yet to be covered with some of the students. We meet at 8:30 a.m. on the day of competition to focus on specific ideas that are generally tested.”

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To prepare for the state competition, the team will practice diligently. “The state has sent a competition preparation packet; in addition, I have competition packets from past events.”

The students are very excited about being selected and have gained confidence. The team’s goal was to win the regional competition. Going to state is an incredible bonus. “I am extremely excited about being chosen for state competition. This will be good for the promotion of the computer science program at AHS. I am very proud of Brodie, Matthew, and Joshua. Brodie has been with me since 9th grade; Matthew is taking his third class with me, and Joshua is a freshman who I believe will be one of my strong coders in the future, commented Telford”

Each member of the first-place team will receive a $2,000 award that will be deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan. Each member of the second-place team will receive a $1,000 award deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan, with each member of the third-place team receiving a $500 award deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan. In addition, the schools that register/sponsor the first-place, second-place, and third-place teams will receive $10,000, $6,000, and $4,000, respectively, to support their computer science programs. The prizes and competition expenses are provided by a grant from ARCodeKids.

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