Ursuline News

Three Students Competed in Programming Competition

Margaret Griffiths ’22, Beckett Morris ’22, and Kathryn Bonneau ’23 teamed together and competed at the Trinity Valley Schools 2022 Programming Competition, “Fineas and Ferb Trippin’ to the Zoo.”

The contest was a 2.5-hour Python programming contest where they worked together to solve coding challenges - about 20 - ranging in difficulty level from easy to expert. Ursuline received 1st place in the Virtual Novice category out of the over 30 virtual teams who competed.

“The goal was to tally up more points than the other teams in the competition, who were from other high schools in the DFW-area,” said Kathryn.

She took her first computer science, AP Computer Science A, last year, and hopes to eventually study data science with an emphasis on computer science.

“I loved it so much that I decided to take another computer science class this year,” she said. “Mrs. McGurgan has been instrumental in fostering my passion for the subject.”

What did she think was the most challenging part of the competition? The test cases.

“It was hard to identify what it was that we needed to correct,” she said. Her teammate, Margaret, agreed.

“Making sure that our coding solution for each prompt passed the certain test cases given was difficult," Margaret said. “The test cases were meant to ensure the code they wrote functioned properly.”

Margaret first became interested in coding after coming across a website, Scratch, in the 5th grade.

Scratch is a website created by MIT in which users utilize “blocks” to code, and in middle school, Margaret would spend hours combining them in various ways to create games and animations.

“Throughout high school, my passion for coding has only become stronger, and I am incredibly thankful for my computer science teacher, Mrs. McGurgan, who has always encouraged us to delve deeper into computer science topics and who always finds opportunities – like the TVS Programming Competition – for us to challenge ourselves in an out-of-class setting,” she said.

Next fall, she will attend the University of Notre Dame and plans to major in either Computer or Electrical Engineering.

“I love to code and can certainly see programming as part of my career one day!” she said.

For Beckett, weeding out unnecessary wording from the challenges and narrowing in on the actual assignment was an interesting challenge which took time… and time factored into their scores!

Programming is her passion, though, so she took on the challenge with grace. She’s learned a lot over the years at Ursuline and credits her first few assignments in AP Computer Science Principles to kickstarting her interest in programming.

“The content was not easy, but was so rewarding,” she said. “And Ursuline’s Computer Science department has been monumental in helping me develop a love for the subject.”

Beckett hopes to major in Computer Science next year.

Computer Science teacher Brenda McGurgan is proud of her students and how they were able to use their coding skills from “Advanced Topics in Computer Science.”

“Learning how to solve problems using the Python language has helped them become more competitive in these programming competitions,” she said.