Rock Island Elementary students, parents work together during Hour of Code event

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What would usually be a quiet school night was an exciting evening for students and parents at Rock Island Elementary as nearly 100 participants gathered at the library for the national Hour of Code challenge during Computer Science Awareness week.

Dozens of schools are opening their doors to students and parents this week to show off their coding skills in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee and Quincy. Harriet Fox, an ELL Specialist at Rock Island Elementary School said the night was a partnership between the North Central Educational Service District, GWATA and Microsoft.

“I’ve been here for 21 years and I think this is probably the best attended parent night we’ve ever had,” Fox said. “Sometimes it’s a struggle, parents are very busy and there’s a lot going on. So to come into school in the evenings sometimes is pretty hard for families but this is a full house.”

Jose Betancourt and his daughter Alexa worked together during the event to code their way through a Minecraft activity.

“She’s always pushing me to come to the school,” Jose said. “I’m happy that she’s learning and I didn’t know about this program. She’s really smart, I’m really proud of her.”

Students worked on coding through games on the website Code.org, moving characters and completing tasks by coding each step.

“I really love my job, for the little ones some advice– Code.org and practice, practice, practice,” said Fernando Ruiz of Microsoft. “With practice you get really good at it. Take the opportunity for these programs, anything with technology take advantage of it.”

Fox said events like these encourage students and parents to be thinking about the future, whether it’s graduating high school, heading to college or technical school and what jobs are available to them.

“Even though this is an elementary school, we’re already planting those seeds of what will you do in the future and why is school important,” Fox said. “My goal is to get kids and their parents to realize there are a lot of opportunities with technology, and that it’s more than just playing video games.”

Fox said she is thankful for the support of local organizations and companies like Microsoft, GWATA and the NCESD, along with all of the volunteers who help bring these events to life.

“There are things you can do that challenge your brain, you can use that technology to do all kinds of cool and interesting things,” Fox said. “And who knows, there might be lots of opportunities in the future it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.”

For more information on the Hour of Code and other schools participating, head to the NCESD’s website.