Coding Enthusiasts Get a Byte of Success with Award


Ashley Wolfe, Editor-in-Chief

Anyone who has attended any sort of family gathering is no stranger to the feelings of community and familiarity that come with being around those known well who also have a shared history. This camaraderie can be seen among Byte Club senior members Rygar Carvajal, Dinyar Kadkhodaian, Pawel Michalski, William Fitzgerald and Junior Kenny Stepney as they collectively retold how they came to win the Top Overall Award at the 2015 CodeDay held November 7 and 8 at Blue1647 in Chicago.

CodeDay is a 24-hour event in which participants must create a digital invention, usually a video game or computer program, which will be judged against the creations of other teams. Awards are given in a variety of areas, including best application and best game, but the Top Overall Award is, as its name implies, the greatest award.

“I remember everyone else coming up to us and…the second thing that happened was they looked at [our] game and said, ‘Wow, you guys are going to win,’” said Fitzgerald.

Because of their collective modesty, they came only with the hope of possibly winning a minor award.

“We didn’t expect to win over all,” said Carvajal. “I think what we were all aiming for was best game…we were all expecting something low, and we ended up getting the highest award.”

Despite this achievement, no one appears to take sole credit for the win. Looking to one another, they credit themselves as a whole for their collective support and teamwork. Fitzgerald mentioned specifically that the graphic work done by Michalski, greatly enhanced the appearance of their game by “[making] it look really professional”.

While he was unable to be physically present for the event, Michalski contributed his work from home, still helping to aid in the win.

The team mentioned that other teams were not as skilled or planned. Some participants underestimated the time they would need and sought to create extravagant games or programs, which they inevitably failed to finish.

“The key that made us do so well and win was that it was really simple, we managed our time, and we were able to have a really good game to present at the end of the day,” said Kadkhodaian.

This was Kadkhodaian’s first CodeDay, which he attended as both a programmer and a yearbook photographer. He noted that the experience was far more valuable than he expected.

“It was really rewarding to see…the rest of the teammates faces after four years of competing and just to get the best award in the room. It was really rewarding,” he said.

Among the rest of the Byte Club team, reactions weren’t much different. While they varied in level of surprise, everyone shared some degree of joy and relief.

“Waking up and seeing… the photos [the team] posted [online], I was very excited that our project was enjoyed by lots of people and that they thought it was good enough to win an award,” said Michalski.

However, Stepney might have been the most pleased with this win.

With a modest smile, he explained that he “was pretty happy”. He had been to CodeDay “four times and not a single time did [he] win anything, so [he] was pretty ecstatic.” This event appeared to be a turning point in his CodeDay experiences.

But the excitement doesn’t end here. Byte Club meets weekly after school on Tuesdays in Room A102 with Matt Farmer, science teacher and Byte Club sponsor. For those interested, there is still room for more talent.

“What we do is we teach kids how to code, and we work together [to] create projects to get people more into the field,” said Stepney.

If you’re planning on attending a meeting, it might be best to prepare to stay awhile.

“Anyone is free to come and go,” said Carvajal. “We generally stay until around six.”

As one can see, even for these individuals, the learning continues.

“You really never stop learning, even if you’re a master programmer. You’re always learning something,” said Fitzgerald.

Although they have just received one of what they hope will be many awards to come, they continue to grow in their abilities in preparation for the next competition, which, according to Farmer, will likely be the next CodeDay event in February 2016.


UPDATE: A previous publication of this article misspelled the last name of Freshman Kenneth Stepney, Senior Dinyar Kadkhodaian, and the first name of Senior Pawel Michalski. Along with William Fitzgerald, who was incorrectly referred to as Fitzpatrick. In addition, the club meets in room A102, not A103 as stated previously.