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Palisades lauded for girls’ interest in computer science


The national education organization best known for its Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) programs and testing has given the Palisades School District special recognition for encouraging young women to study computer science.

At the outset of the Feb. 7 school board meeting, Rich Heffernan, high school principal and assistant to the superintendent, presented the College Board’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award to computer science teacher Tim Einholf. Palisades is one of only 225 schools nationwide to be recognized for its female participation in AP Computer Science A.

Heffernan noted that while only 25% of computer science jobs are held by women, and only 21% of college computer science majors are women, female participation in that Palisades course was at 40%.

AP courses allow for content sufficient to qualify for college credit while still in high school.

In describing the award, the College Board notes that “studying computer science can open doors for students…but girls have been left behind for far too long. That’s why we are honoring schools for expanding young women’s access to AP computer science classes, and for the important steps they are taking to improve gender representation.” It describes its course AP Computer Science A as “students doing hands-on work to design, write, and test computer programs that solve problems or accomplish tasks using Java code.”

Later in the Feb. 7 meeting, Director of Technology Gary Adams, in advance of the board’s vote to approve a new contract for backup internet access, noted that the new, three-year contract “doubled the speed, and lowered the cost.”

During public comment, several parents expressed deep concern about the loss of a full-time teacher position for gifted students, and general concern about larger class sizes as understood to be related to staff reductions.

In response, Board President Silvia LeBlanc promised that “we will keep that conversation going.”

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