Middle school students’ Coding Club helps create a collaborative community

The Polygon Club at Chestnut Ridge Middle School was developed by students JT Vance and Matthew Pagano.

They approached Principal James Barnes and expressed their interest in HTML coding and creating games. The result was an innovative community for young learners. The afterschool coding club takes place in the library and not only provides a positive haven for learning a new or established skill but also a relaxed environment where students can have fun and enjoy each other’s company.

Students meet on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. to share projects and encourage each other to excel in their endeavors of creating coding games. Technology Integration Specialist Elizabeth Pitel oversees the club and teaches students how creative collaboration can help them learn as well as grow their skill sets.

The Chestnut Ridge students know it’s never too early to plan for the future and that an extracurricular activity like the Polygon Club can help set the tone for pursuits accomplished as adults.

“It’s a good thing to help get kids started for the future,” said Vance. “Having extensive knowledge of programming is good for your resume.”

Students gather around tables with their laptop computers and popcorn supplied by Elizabeth Pitel.

“It’s fun to see everyone doing their own thing and being creative and imaginative,” said Pagano. “It’s good to help people.”

Supporting peers and being immersed in a creatively collaborative environment highlight the importance of community and helping others. The club is highly interactive, and students can not only see the finished product but also various stages of the creative process. Each  student’s growth and improvements are celebrated.

“I think everyone in this class is unique,” Pagano noted. “They have their own ideas, likes and concepts. I think that it’s good we all share that together here.”

“I hope we get more visitors, so we can teach a larger variety of kids how to code and make their own stuff,” Vance added. “What they create reflects their personality in all the different programs that we see.”

“Pushing the kids to try new things, create their concepts, and run with it … as an educator, this is what you hope for,” said Pitel. “They build up their skill sets, collaborate  and grow.”