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Computer science program invites alumni back for a day

Rosemount High School alumni talk with students during a recent computer science event. Michelle Wirth / RiverTown Multimedia

Thirty Rosemount High School alumni went back to their roots Dec. 21 for a computer science event at the school. Instead of learning, this time they were presenters to current students.

Thomas Reinartz, computer science teacher at RHS, said it is the second year he has brought alumni back in the form of panels to talk with current students.

"(The panels) make it a little more tangible, a little more real I suppose, to open up an idea somewhere that's not happening in a programming class," Reinartz said.

The alumni were split into six panels and students were placed at the various tables. Each panel conducted demonstrations, facilitated discussions with the current students and conducted question and answer sessions.

Reinartz said there is a demand for students graduating with computer science degrees so this is an opportunity for high school students to learn a little more about a college CS program.

In addition to a panel session, Reinartz and another CS teacher, Brian Fendrich, took a few minutes to honor a former student who attended last year's alumni panel.

Joan Reiziell Ocampo-Yambing was an RHS graduate. In high school, she enjoyed English but Reinartz said she grew to love computer science through the CS program. She was studying computer science at Creighton University when she was unexpected killed in a car accident on her way to view the total solar eclipse.

Reinartz and Fendrich invited Ocampo-Yambing's mother and brother to the event to present them with a photograph that was taken at last year's CS alumni event when she had attended.

The teachers announced their intent to pursue a computer science student of the year award in her honor or possibly a scholarship fund. She had a wonderful spirit about her, was always positive and had great enthusiasm, Fendrich said.

Reinartz said she was one of those kids who was an anchor for the program and an award in her name would be a great way to honor her.

"(She is) a big loss for us and everyone," Reinartz said.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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