In a new celebration of student accomplishments in STEM, Oyster River High School (ORHS) has established a brand new chapter of the Computer Science National Honor Society (CSNHS).
On December 15, 16 students with a passion for computer science were honored with white flowers and certificates of achievement as they walked across the auditorium stage at the inaugural CSNHS induction ceremony. The students were celebrated in speeches by their staff advisor, student leaders, principal, and the New Hampshire Department of Education’s STEM specialist. All of these speeches praised the high levels of skill and dedication to computer science the inducted students possessed.
To be eligible for CSNHS, students in grades 9-12 had to earn an 80 or above in a computer science class and complete ten hours of community service, five of which had to be related to computer science. Most (but not all) of the society’s new members are also in CodeRunners, ORHS’s coding club. Cathi Stetson, the advisor to both groups and a computer science teacher at the high school, says CodeRunners consists of about 25 “like-minded kids that want to sit around and code, learn new things, and be around other people who enjoy that.”
CodeRunners has also provided students interested in joining CSNHS with opportunities for computer science-related community service. Prospective CSNHS members ran an HTML clinic for elementary school students and led Coding and Cocoa, an event where students across the district learned to code through interactive games.
Kelly Zhang (‘23), the president and founder of CodeRunners and CSNHS, is responsible for instituting the society at ORHS with a few other seniors. She learned about CSNHS in the spring of last year and was immediately excited about it.
“I thought it was a super cool opportunity,” Zhang said. “I thought it would be good for people to get nationally recognized for their achievements. I also wanted to bring our club to the community a bit more. Last year, we started organizing guest speaker events and had some industry engineers come in, but I wanted to do more on that side of things and broaden our impact. Right now with the honor society, we are starting to do more volunteering… We want to try to get out there a bit more and benefit our local communities.”
There are two main reasons students wanted to join CSNHS, Zhang said. “The first one is national-level opportunities. There are a lot of resources that come with being part of a national organization. There’s also some networks and connections. The second thing is volunteering and being able to branch out from the high school and just our little group.”
CSNHS also “gives recognition to schools and people who are going into computer science,” added Raghav Rajkumar (‘23), the society’s vice president who worked with Zhang to bring it to Oyster River. He explained that while the society does look good on college applications, it’s also an opportunity for students to “get connected with a larger community of learners.”
Students in CSNHS also have the opportunity for significant leadership experience, Stetson pointed out. While she has helped with the “checks and balances” to ensure the administrative aspects of the group were fulfilled, students have been responsible for basically everything else. The officers of CSNHS have taken on the majority of the work for establishing the society at ORHS, including reviewing and following the charter and helping students meet the requirements to join.
“With the leadership we have, I feel like we’re going to be doing a lot more things and the club can just grow,” Stetson said. “I want the younger students that we have, the juniors and sophomores, to really watch our leaders, because they’re all seniors, and be able to fulfill and keep going.”
Zhang said that leading CodeRunners and CSNHS “is both rewarding and challenging at the same time. There’s definitely a lot of responsibility that goes into it. I feel like it’s really important to have students be the leaders so that we can self-perpetuate the club.”
Now that students have been inducted into CSNHS, Zhang is excited for the future opportunities and outreach the club will bring. “I’m just really proud of all of our members,” she said. “I think everyone has achieved a really high level of excellence, so I’m really proud that we they all get national recognition.”
– Zoe Selig
Photos by Suzanne Filippone