Fort High student attending computer science seminar

FORT FRANCES—While most students were eagerly awaiting the last day of school, Fort Frances High School student Rylee Nixon was making plans to attend a week-long computer science seminar at the University of Waterloo.
The Computer Science Seminar for Young Women, sponsored by Imperial Oil, is a unique opportunity for selected female students from across Canada.
“[The organizer] said she was really looking for someone from the north to apply because no one has ever applied from Northwestern Ontario,” noted Sherree Denby, a computer science teacher at Fort High.
“I think they were glad Rylee applied and gave it to her right away.”
Denby indicated close to 700 female students in Grade 9 and 10 applied in 2005 for a total of 96 spots—making it quite an honour to be selected.
“The purpose is to spark interest in computer science among young high school girls so that they might consider taking computer science courses at the high school level,” states the program’s website.
“We also want to show young women the benefits of a post-secondary computer science education,” it adds.
Nixon, a Devlin resident who has enjoyed working with computers since
grade 6, was excited about the opportunity.
“I think I will know some of the stuff and I will learn some,” she noted between exams on Friday.
While the 10th-grader didn’t have to pay for the trip (Imperial Oil Foundation covered all the expenses), Nixon had to have her exams moved—squeezing four into two days.
“The teachers were very accommodating,” she said, stressing she was “pretty lucky” to receive such an opportunity.
Nixon departed from the Fort Frances Airport on Saturday—having never flown before—and will spend some additional time with relatives after the week-long seminar.
“I’m excited to meet new people,” she adding, noting the closest participant is from Thunder Bay.
Nixon, along with the other young women, are staying in a residence on campus and will have a chance to experience the independence of university life.
Female undergraduate students—doubling as chaperones—can tell them all about life on campus.
“Topics will include bioinformatics, the Internet, graphics, software development, and hardware,” explained Denby, who provided Nixon with the information to apply for the program.
“I think it will be a lot of new stuff so she [Nixon] will be able to see what’s out there and different applications of computers besides just what we do here at the high school.”
Denby added there also will be time for some social events, too. In past years, notes the website, participants have had the chance to go rock climbing, swim, play basketball, sing karaoke, and see a play at the Stratford Festival.
“If this turns out good this year, I’d like it to continue and have someone go every year if possible,” Denby said. “And maybe Atikokan and Rainy River will get more into it, too, and send some girls.”
Denby also stressed she believes this is an excellent opportunity for Nixon.
“It will be positive to give her ideas of what careers are out there and really get enthused about academics,” she remarked.
“There will be the brightest of girls there, so I think she will meet a lot of kids who will make her interested into pursuing higher academics.”
(Fort Frances Times)