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Montana HS girls recognized for computing, technology achievement

HELENA – High school students from around Montana were recognized Saturday for their skills and interest in computing and technology as part of a national program to expand opportunities for women in technological fields.

The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) presented the 2019 Awards for Aspirations in Computing, in an event at Carroll College.

Thirteen girls in Montana were named as award winners, while four more received honorable mentions and another three got national certificates of distinction.

During Saturday’s award presentation, the students heard from women currently working in careers in technology.

Award winners were chosen for their interest and aptitude in computing and technology, along with their leadership skills and academic record.

Alyson Rake, a junior at Helena High School, said winning the award gave her a boost in confidence. She encouraged other girls to try STEM subjects themselves.

“Even if you don’t think you’re going to be good at it, even if it seems like the complete opposite direction of what you think you want to do, just give it a try,” she said.

“Because you’re going to meet a network of fantastic people and amazing teachers and other people who are just awesome and will support you through anything, even if you don’t do STEM,” Rake added.

Isabelle Melton, a Capital High School senior, was also a winner last year.

“I would just advise to do what you’re passionate about, and don’t be afraid to pursue what you’re passionate about – even though you may feel there’s a boundary or a challenge associated with it,” she said. “Just always go out there, experiment, try new things, and try and succeed.”

Michael Poser of Hobson High School was also recognized as NCWIT’s Montana educator of the year. Helena High’s Buffy Smith, who has been named educator of the year several times before, received an honorable mention.

Carroll College computer science professor Steve Harper, who helps oversee the Montana contest, said Smith has also been honored as a national NCWIT educator of the year for 2019 – the first time a Montana educator has received that recognition.


2019 Montana Award for Aspirations in Computing Winners:

  • Josie Baggett, junior, Hamilton High School
  • Jenna Bingham, senior, Helena High School
  • Samielle Connerton, senior, Hobson High School
  • Lauren Good, senior, Great Falls High School
  • Lauren Helbling, senior, Capital High School
  • Elizabeth Hickey, sophomore, Hobson High School
  • Sophie Hiltner, sophomore, Red Lodge High School
  • Tally Humphrey, senior, Billings West High School
  • Isabelle Melton, senior, Capital High School
  • Alyson Rake, junior, Helena High School
  • Bailee Sjostrom, junior, Sentinel High School
  • Madison Wiegand, senior, Simms High School
  • Nicole Williams, senior, Seeley-Swan High School

Honorable Mentions:

  • Brice Curry, senior, Sentinel High School
  • Diane Lipka, senior, Flathead High School
  • Laurel Maronick, first-year, Helena High School
  • Audrey Senecal, senior, Helena High School

National Certificates of Distinction:

  • Jean Blackman, senior, Cascade High School
  • Sonja Severtson, senior, Helena High School
  • Mackenzie Wiegand, senior, Simms High School
-Jonathon Ambarian reporting for MTN News
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