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RHS receives computer science diversity honor

For the second year in a row, Russellville High School has received the AP CSP Diversity Award from the College Board for the high percentage of females engaged in AP Computer Science classes.

The award was given based on last year’s student enrollment. Of the students enrolled in the AP Computer Science Principals course, 22 were females and 16 were males.

“We understand all of our students are capable of doing anything they set their minds to,” said RHS Career Tech director Natalie Bendall. “We are so proud of our students and teachers for showing that anyone is capable of pursuing these fields. Females in computer science are not as prevalent, but we hope we are helping to tear down that barrier.”

RHS computer science teacher Brea Colagross said in the time she has been at RHS, she has seen a growing interest in computer science from all students and is proud to be an example to her students that computer science is for all.

“Females right now are underrepresented, not only in the job market, but in high school students taking computer science courses,” she noted.

Colagross said RHS offers four different computer science classes, with about 100 students in the entire program. Of these 100 students, Colagross said about 25 percent are female.

Colagross said she thinks some girls might be turned off from computer science initially because they assume it is only video games and coding, but she is trying to educate students that computer science is so much more than that.

“There are a lot of aspects of computer science that we need females for because I believe some aspects females tend to be better suited for,” Colagross said. “A lot of computer science is about collaborating and communicating to find a solution and fix a problem while investigating and thinking logically. There has to be a plan in place before any coding can be done.”

Colagross said she has enjoyed watching students develop interest in computer science and looks forward to continuing to educate the next generation of students that anything is possible for all genders.

“It is great to watch so many students find themselves here,” Colagross said. “They never knew how much they enjoy computer science before taking a class, but now they have a future career they want to pursue.”