Gentry High School Students Place In State-Wide Coding Competition

GENTRY (KFSM) -- A team of Gentry High School students placed in a state-wide coding competition earlier this month.

This was the first year the district sent a team to the All-State Coding Competition.

“I wasn't expecting it. We were right on the edge of time limit, so it was a close call,” junior Johnathan Brinkley said.

Brinkley, along with junior Matt Anderson and freshman Channing Babb placed third in the competition at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Babb said what he thinks set them apart from the other teams was that they started at the end first.

“We did the harder ones first to see if we could get them done, so we could get the higher amount of points and then we tried to do as much as we could to make it work but we ran out of time really fast,” Babb said.

More than 85 teams in the state participated in the regional competition, compared to 75 last year.

The top 16 teams from each regional event, along with a team from last year’s first-place school received invitations to compete in this competition.

Anderson said he started programming when he was just 12 years old.

“Self-taught with YouTube and a few different things, online courses. I started off with JAVA and then slowly worked my way to Java script and web programming. Then had to learn python just for this competition,” he said.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas is leading the nation in computer science education.

One initiative of Hutchinson's campaign is to mandate computer coding classes in every public high school in Arkansas.

The Governor announced the All-State Coding Competition during his Computer Science Coding Tour in Sept. 2016.

Governor Hutchinson said he was there to congratulate Gentry and said he's proud of their success.

“Gentry represented Northwest Arkansas well as other schools. Gentry came in third place and I'm very proud of those students. That means money for the school and some help for their college education,” he said.

All three boys took home a $500 scholarship and the school received $4,000 to help support their computer science program.

Conway High School placed first in the competition and the Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts placed second.