High School Computer Competition Testimonial

Janeen Thomas

I can still remember May 8, 2003 when my mother told me that I was going to start taking Saturday classes at Southeastern University for BDPA. I was very upset—now I also had to do school work on the weekends. The first day I attended class I remember thinking to myself “why in the world do they think I can do all of this work in addition to my schoolwork?”

After a couple of weeks I started enjoying the class, mostly because I knew all the answers and it made feel extremely smart. I started socializing more with the other people in the class, and every class became more fun.

On July 26, 2003 they announced the people that would represent DC in the High School Computer Competition. I was so excited to know that I along with seven other people were going to Philadelphia to represent the nation’s capital. In addition to our 3-hour Saturday classes we started having classes on Sundays. We had two weeks to learn everything we could about BDPA and programming. Every free minute I had turned into a chance for me to study and practice.

When we arrived in Philadelphia on August 13, 2003 I was so excited. The rest of our day consisted of seminars. Honestly, the first night we were there I did not want to go to sleep because I knew the next day the real competition started. I never had so many butterflies in my life, I was immensely nervous.

We got all correct in the oral competition, and did pretty well in the written competition. That night we had to cram infinite amounts of programming code into the heads of four teenagers for the next day’s programming competition.

The programming portion of the competition was probably the most difficult assignment I have ever experienced in my life. We had to sit in a room for 8 hours, writing a program that would probably take a professional programmer weeks or months to create. While sitting in that room there were times when we all just wanted to give up, there were times I even started crying—but we still got through it.

The rest of the trip was a big social event. Saturday morning we went to Jillian’s and the mall. Saturday night we went to the banquet. On Sunday it was time for us to depart from one of the best experiences of my life. On the train ride back home it was a time for us to recollect all the memories that we had experienced those past couple of days, and it was a time for us to enjoy our last few hours with each other.

When I started BDPA I was only in the program so it would look good on my college transcript, but I left with so much more. I left with knowledge, friends, inside jokes, and most of all memories.