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Santa Barbara High Computer Science Academy Zooms Ahead Despite Covid Challenges | School Zone

Posted on May 7, 2021
| 5:44 p.m.

The past year has shown the importance of computer technology in finding creative solutions to problems posed by the pandemic, from keeping people connected to each other while social distancing, to helping businesses stay afloat.

Instead of reducing programs due to the shift to remote teaching, Santa Barbara High School’s Computer Science Academy has been active this year in training the next generation of computer scientists.

Despite the challenges of a closed campus and reduced donations to the academy as grant funds have gone toward fighting the pandemic, the academy doubled down on efforts to bring more opportunities to more students by using Zoom to bring tech companies and leaders in the computer science field to academy students.

Speakers this year include representatives from Google, Invoca, Fitdigits, Green Hills Software, Ontraport, the Central Coast Data Science Partnership, SBCC and UCSB.

Students were able to take virtual field trips to companies headquartered in California’s tech epicenters of Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach, as well as local tech companies in Santa Barbara. They met with engineers, executives, and experts from companies such as Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and SWIT, which builds computer software for team collaboration.

Local firms included AppFolio, Amazon Alexa, ViQi, HG Insights, and Karl Storz.

The Computer Science Academy and the nonprofit that fundraises for it, the CS Academy Foundation, have funded programs through financial partnerships with recent donors such as The Lopker Foundation, Toyon Corporation, LogicMonitor, the Towbes Foundation, the Williams-Corbett Foundation, and the Mosher Foundation; as well as tech equipment donations from FLIR, Invoca, Flexera, and Amazon.

The Computer Science Academy is serving the largest number and the greatest diversity of students in its history, and is working to continue this trajectory, said the academy’s director Sky Adams.

There were 160 students enrolled in Computer Science Academy classes this year, 52% of whom are Hispanic and 44% who come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The academy has the most comprehensive computer science curriculum in the district, and is open to all students, even those without computer or coding experience.

The academy offers students an array of extracurricular activities, such as field trips to tech companies, a job shadow program, a hackathon, and opportunities to compete in team robotics competitions. It is one of 17 Career and Technical Education pathways offered in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

To learn more about Santa Barbara High School’s Computer Science Academy and Foundation, visit https://sbhscs.org/.