Lauderdale County students use computer coding to embrace the future

Bianca Moorman/The Meridian Star

West Lauderdale High School students Caleb Carbonneau, Axel Galvan and David Spence work on an assignment during an advanced placement computer science class at the school. 

David Spence has always had an interest in computer science. 

Which is why he's taking a class in computer coding at West Lauderdale High School.

Spence and other students are enrolled in an advanced placement computer science pilot program called Computer Science for Mississippi Initiative, or CS4MS. This is the first year the program is being offered in the Lauderdale County School district.

As part of the initiative, teachers use Code.org, an interactive program that features different lesson plans based on specific grade levels. The class is helping Spence, who wants to major in computer science in college, plan for his future. His classmate Axel Galvan, who plans to study veterinarian medicine, said he will also use what he’s learning, even though his future career isn’t necessarily computer-related.

“It’s really good for teaching you reasoning and thinking skills, which I really appreciate,” said Galvan, a senior at West Lauderdale.

Spence described the process of learning to code as challenging, adding that he and Galvan often work as a team to solve problems.

Teacher Jena Wiggins said the class is similar to what computer science majors can expect their freshman year of college. She said the class isn’t just about computer programming, but also about how technology is part of everyday life.

“Most everything that we use today has some type or some kind of computer science component to it,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins said one of her goals is to encourage students to be producers of technology, instead of just consumers. She hopes that, long term, the program will help attract more technology-oriented companies to the state.

“We are educating a workforce for our industry needs,” she said.

Josh Snider, who has been teaching at Northeast Lauderdale High School for seven years, is teaching the computer science class for the first time this year. Like Wiggins, Snider likes the idea that students are being exposed to technology, since it’s a growing industry.

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