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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

First annual High School Hacks sees record attendance of over 800

More than 800 high school students, most of them from the Bay Area, went to the campus of PayPal with one goal in mind on March 7-8: win one of the handful of prizes in the High School Hacks Hackathon.
Representing the school at the event were sophomores Spencer Yen, Aakash Thumaty and Ethan Chen, who combined to try to write an app that pairs a user and a random Facebook friend to chat anonymously. 
They had two days to write the code for the app. With a mere 24 seconds left, they submitted their app. Later that day, they found out that they had won first place in the Facebook API award and an iPad Mini.
“At first we had no idea we had won because we were so busy organizing and moving around so much,” Yen said. “When we found out, we tried to remain as modest and humble as we could.”
Yen and more than 800 high school students mainly from the Bay Area attended the High School Hacks Hackathon organized by high schoolers that took place at Paypal’s San Jose Headquarters from March 8-9.
“The atmosphere of the event was a mix of friendly competition and viral excitement,” Thumaty said. “Everybody came to the Hackathon with a goal, and by the end they had all worked super hard to make it happen.” 
Although the majority people who went to High School Hacks knew how to code, roughly 300 people without prior programming experience also came. 
“People who didn’t have a clue on how to write a line of code came [to the event] and learned how,” Yen said. “There were workshops with professionals centered around helping beginners create simple applications [such as] games like ‘Flappy Bird’ and various other Android applications.”
Yen and Thumaty, co-organizers of High School Hacks as well as participants, spent much of their time supervising the event. They organized workshops that taught code, led workshops and helped to make sure the event ran smoothly.
Around 30 companies such as Google and Facebook sponsored the event and helped pay for all of the costs. Furthermore, companies gave out awards to students who created apps using one of their API’s (Application Programming Interface). Additionally, the companies recruited for internships and jobs. 
“The sponsoring companies would set up small booths around the building and go around encouraging students to apply for programs within their company,” Thumaty said.
Overall, Yen and Thumaty believe that the experience at a Hackathon was nothing short of exciting.
“The environment at the Hackathon was the best because it kept people extremely content and motivated,” Thumaty said. “It’s everyone coming together whether they were a coding veteran or a rookie.
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