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Great State of Minds: Achievement First Hartford High School’s coding class

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HARTFORD -- At Achievement First Hartford High School, there’s a computer programming class that allows students to learn more about computers than many of us have ever done.

Isabel Giovacchini, a 12th grade AP math teacher at Achievement First, said the class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays for 30 minutes, and that the students (called scholars at Achievement First) really enjoy the challenges.

Two of the teachers from Achievement First act as advisors, but they said the students are great about diving right into their work. If you’re not familiar with computer coding, it’s essentially just a way to make the computer do what you want it to do. It’s becoming an increasingly important skill in today’s workforce, and these students want to prepare themselves as best they can.

Demetrius Blackmon told us, “you see companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, they’re all doing these great things and they start through code and programming.”

Demetrius, along with Raven Caines, act as student advisors leading challenges that the class will work on.

“My favorite project I’ve worked on was creating my own emoji.” Raven said.

Most of these students don’t fit the stereotype of many in scientific careers, but they’re proud of that. STEM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), is a career field that the United States is falling behind in, so a push has been made to reignite students’ interest in it.

“This is a really great opportunity to explore a field and especially a stem field where people of color and women are really underrepresented.”

“Scholars have the opportunity to show their skills and really grow throughout the process of the year”

“So to see Demetrius grow from when he first started to the work that he’s able to produce now shows that he is ready to step into that stem career.”

And grow they have. Demetrius recently made the animated character Link from the Zelda video games… and you heard raven raving about the emoji she recreated. This was designed simply using computer code.

“I think any time that they can be creative and show off what they’re interested in, it’s a great outlet for them.”

If you know of any Connecticut schools or colleges incorporating unique or out of the box curriculum, we would love to feature it in a segment. Here’s the link to send me any ideas on Facebook, Twitter, or you can email me at


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