By Evan Wen (IV)
This year, the Competitive Programming Club was formed to introduce Pingry computer science students to competitive programming. In competitive programming, participants are given problems that they must solve by writing programs.
The club primarily focuses on preparing students for the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) and contests on Codeforces, a website that hosts online programming competitions. Both of these competitions are online, which means they’re guaranteed to run, regardless of closures to due coronavirus, and are a great way to pass time while at home.
Several students are preparing for the USACO, which has four divisions: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. An upcoming contest on the weekend of December 18-21 is an opportunity for competitors to get promoted to higher divisions. In November, Alan Zhong (III), Nick Meng (III), and Hansen Zhang (III) competed in the online Montgomery Blair Informatics Tournament. In the future, there will be more team competitions as well as in-person competitions, once it is safe to gather in large groups.
Participating in competitive programming has many benefits, including preparing for interviews for programming jobs. Companies such as Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google all interview candidates by giving them tasks similar to those featured in programming contests. By learning from these programming competitions, participants are essentially also getting ready for job interviews at top tech companies.
If you are interested in programming or solving puzzles, let club leaders Chris Gu (V) and myself (Evan Wen) know via email. Currently, we are in the process of organizing a mock programming contest that will take place after winter break. If you aren’t sure whether competitive programming is for you, I suggest giving this mock competition a try. In addition, the Competitive Programming Club currently meets once a week to go work through problems that are selected from past USACO contests. Members may also choose to practice on their own by doing contests on Codeforces, solving past problems online, and reading online resources to learn more about certain techniques. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Competitive Programming Club looks forward to a year filled with strong results!
By Mirika Jambudi (IV)
On November 20, Pingry students participated virtually in the Princeton Model Congress (PMC), originally scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. PMC, the oldest model congress in the country, provides students the unique opportunity to learn about and experience the American legislative process.
Unlike most Model Congress conferences, PMC is unique in that students are not assigned a member of the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate to represent at the conference. Instead, students arrive at the conference with pre-written bills, which they then debate and amend in their committees, with the ultimate goal of passing them. Students can write bills on any topic that falls under their committee’s scope and take whatever stance they would like in the discussions.
Despite the virtual format, students engaged in extensive policy debate and ultimately walked away with a greater understanding of the process that goes into passing legislation. Vared Shmuler (IV) stated that he “had lots of fun, despite the virtual format.” Olivia Roure-Singh (IV) said that “though this was [her] first conference, it was still a very engaging and informative one.”
A special thanks goes out to Dr. Megan Jones and Dr. Gillian Johnson for organizing and coordinating Pingry’s participation in the virtual conference, especially in the midst of all the scheduling changes.
Ultimately, the conference was a success for Pingry students. They were able to participate in a lively and exciting weekend filled with lots of debate, and they are looking forward to returning (hopefully in-person) to Princeton Model Congress next year.
By Brian Li (V)
The Pingry Credit Union is a student-founded and student-run club that aims to increase and promote financial wellness throughout the Pingry community. As Club President Jason Lefkort (VI) describes, “financial wellness” has different meanings for different people – faculty, staff, and parents may interpret it as financial health, while students may define it as “greater financial independence”.
The original team members hoped to meet these varied needs through a “standalone credit union.” However, upon realizing that this was infeasible, the Pingry Credit Union decided to partner with Affinity Federal Credit Union to offer its services to the community. This would allow them to cater to the Pingry community in its entirety.
In a few weeks, the Pingry Credit Union will officially launch its services and go live with their signup webpage, providing the community an opportunity to register for an account and engage with the Credit Union’s services.
When a Pingry community member makes a credit union account, he or she will receive a variety of the benefits that come with a typical credit union. Where banks primarily try to profit off of customers, a credit union works for the individual by redistributing profits to its members. Other benefits include lower loan rates and higher savings rates. The student-led Pingry Credit Union team is also offering specialized merchandise, discounts to local businesses, raffles for amazing products, and even more!
As for the team’s main goals for this school year, Lefkort said spreading “greater awareness throughout the Pingry community is a priority.” The team hopes to have more people understand what the Pingry Credit Union is and what it has to offer. They also aim to expand financial wellness, and ultimately, have it play a “significant role in the Pingry experience.”
During COVID-19, the Pingry Credit Union was forced to reshape its future plans. The official launch would have directly involved people on the Pingry campus with a launch party, but that was infeasible for this year. Discount cards also posed a challenge at first, as the standard process of contacting local businesses could no longer be followed, but the team was able to pivot and successfully connect with businesses remotely.
Furthermore, in past years the group’s partnership with Affinity Federal Credit Union has provided Pingry students with internship opportunities that did not require a separate application process. This was also halted during the pandemic; however, the Pingry Credit Union hopes to begin offering internships again in the near future.
Led by Lefkort, Co-Vice Presidents Julian Lee (VI) and Justin Li (VI), and faculty advisor Mr. David Rushforth, the Pingry Credit Union is looking forward to a successful launch this year, and hopes to see a rapid increase in financial wellness within the Pingry community.
By Brooke Pan (VI)
Following the burgeoning civil rights movement over the past several months, seniors Monica Chan (VI) and Luc Francis (VI) are carrying the momentum into the Pingry community with a new student-based group. The Pingry Allyship Collective (PAC) has outlined a specific and defined goal: to better the community in all aspects of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) through collaborative education. “PAC will act as the missing liaison between the administration and the current student-led DEI groups and programs,” Chan said.
While the creation of the club cannot be attributed to any individual event, the ideas behind the club largely arose in response to the tragic murder of George Floyd. Shortly after news of the event was made public, “the leaders of the Asian Student Union (ASU) reached out to all the student leaders saying that [they] should come together to have a meeting and an open dialogue about these issues,” Francis said, “And so we just came together one day as a group—really at that point, we were just friends, leaders within the community—talking and having an open dialogue . . . but eventually, we realized that the action we all felt we needed to take could be answered with the Pingry Allyship Collective.”
The PAC welcomes any students who are interested in learning more about DEI issues in our community, drawing awareness to those issues, and brainstorming solutions. With its group-based education, students can learn about a diverse array of topics in a safe and welcoming environment through the various projects available. These projects encompass all topics relating to DEI, ranging from advisory activities to Pingry publications, in hopes of educating members of the specific project and the greater Pingry community. For instance, junior Isabella Briones (V) has begun work on PAC’s first project: to create a “glossary of terms about DEI that are specific to Pingry, such as defining the differences between an affinity group or student union.” “We can publish that to be accessible to the wider community,” explained Chan, “I’m really excited about our first project which will be presented during our first meeting.” At each of these meetings, students can either join existing projects such as Briones’s or form their own, all under the guidance and support of the PAC leadership team. This team is comprised of roughly 25 student leaders of affinity groups, student unions, student government, diversity groups, and more. Their role is to oversee project assignments, production, and serve as a helping hand to anyone who needs it. As the meetings progress, the PAC hopes to provide a comprehensive list of projects that can meet anyone’s specific interests. While the projects aim to address specific issues extensively, as part of broader discussions about DEI, “the goal of the projects isn’t to grill people,” Francis said, “The main goal of PAC is to make DEI available for as many people as possible and make it commonplace. We’re all Pingry students and we all understand that we have a lot of work to do—we have homework, clubs, sports— so the project structure of our group basically allows people to pick what projects they’re interested in and are willing to commit to.”
PAC was created with the intention of making the opportunity to contribute to DEI accessible to the Pingry community. The leaders have worked for months to provide avenues through which students can create tangible change. Too often community service is regarded as a requirement rather than a responsibility; by engaging the student body with meaningful DEI initiatives, PAC hopes to create lasting change and foster a culture of community-based learning and improvement. Everyone, regardless of previous involvement in DEI, is greatly encouraged to participate. If interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information!