State High Coders Sweep At Bloomsburg Programming Contest


Photo courtesy of Sheila Abruzzo

State High Pi-Thon Wranglers (consisting of sophomore Trevor Martin and seniors Serena Duncan, Christina Wang, and Ben Rider) pose with their fourth place plaque at the Bloomsburg Programming Contest on April 12, 2022.

Jenny Yu, Features Editor

On Tuesday, April 12, 2022, four teams of four departed from State High for the 25th annual High School Programming Contest hosted by Bloomsburg University. The 3-hour long contest consists of ten problems ranging in difficulty from elementary to difficult. Teams are then ranked by how many problems they solve successfully, with ties broken by time of completion. 

State High’s participation in the programming contest is sponsored by the Learning Enrichment department, which seeks to support broader experiences for students with diverse interests. State High first began participating in the contest many years ago.

“I don’t remember how I discovered it, because we had kids looking for some kind of programming thing, and we did some research,” Learning Enrichment advisor Sheila Abruzzo recalled. Upon reaching out to the Bloomsburg programming contest administrator, Abruzzo found out that State High had competed in the contest years earlier, before she had even started working at State High. Now, the contest has become an annual tradition.

“The first year we went, it was such a positive experience,” Abruzzo said. “We took second—we got all ten problems but it was less than a second after [the first team]. We’ve done it ever since, excluding the pandemic years.”

Preparations for the contest primarily involved practicing previous competition problems posted online. With each team only allowed two laptops during the contest, most teams took the route of splitting into partners whom they prepared with. 

“With my teammate, I worked through problems from the 2019 competition and discussed strategies for working with two people on one computer,” senior Zach Cheslock said.

The practice paid off. Every year since the first year Abruzzo attended, State High has taken first place, and this time was no different. The four State High teams took first, second, fourth, and eleventh. First, second, and fourth places all received a plaque commemorating their accomplishment, and each member of the first-place team additionally received a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. Overall sentiments regarding the competition were extremely positive.

“I thought it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed how the problems required you to think through them systematically to come up with algorithms,” said Cheslock, a member of the first-place team “Sleeper Nation.”

Senior Julian Kim, also a member of “Sleeper Nation,” noted some of the difficulties the team faced.

“There were definitely some sticking points where we had to debug a lot—the last problem was particularly difficult and it took us a long time to complete. [But] I think we did well,” Kim continued. “We placed first, and we were the only team that completed all ten problems. Our team worked together really smoothly.”

Even for those with less of a programming background, the contest proved to be fruitful. Going into the contest, junior David Lee had been nervous because it was his first programming competition. But by the end, his team “Maggie Thatcher and the Milk Snatcher” successfully solved five problems, placing eleventh. 

“It opened me to competitive programming and what questions there were on such competitions,” Lee reflected. “It was a good experience for our first time.”


Detailed results:

1st place – “Sleeper Nation” (10/10 solved)

2nd place – “Team 4” (9/10 solved)

4th place – “Pi-Thon Wranglers” (7/10 solved)

11th place – “Maggie Thatcher and the Milk Snatcher” (5/10 solved)