Croatian students excel at ACSL 2019

10 students from a grammar school in Varaždin, Croatia achieve excellent results in an international computer science contest in the USA

The students from Prva gimnazija Varaždin with their teachers after the contest

Each year students from more than 300 schools around the globe take part in the contest called American Computer Science League (ACSL) – All Star Contest https://www.acsl.org/ Since computer science and programming are very popular with Croatian high school students, Prva gimnazija Varaždin, one of the oldest grammar schools in Croatia, takes part in ACSL regularly.

This year two teams, each consisting of 5 students, qualified for All-Star Contest which was held at Wayne Hills HS in Wayne, New Jersey on Saturday, May 25, 2019 (US Memorial Day weekend). All of 10 students scored perfectly in 4 qualifying rounds of this contest, beating students from the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The students from Prva gimnazija Varaždin in Wayne Hills HS

Together with two Computer Science teachers, Bojan Banić and Vesna Novosel-Martinić and the principal, Janja Banić, these two teams travelled to the USA on May 22, 2019. Nikola Kušen, Teo Putarek, Jakov Novak and Marko Varga  from class 2G and Viktor Pijanec from class 1G were members of Intermediate 5 team, while the members of Senior 5 team: Ida Kolmanić, Andrea Križanić, Nina Sokol, Marko Srpak and Janko Vrček were all from class 3G. Preparing for All-Star round throughout the whole school year under the supervision of our mentor, Mr. Banić, we solved more problems than one can think of. The competition started early in the morning. Firstly, each team was given a set of programming tasks and afterwards we all competed individually in short questions round. “This has been the toughest year so far”, said the teachers who have already mentored over fifteen generations of ACSL competitors. Even though the problems seemed insuperable we managed to win some prizes. Nina Sokol won the fifth place in Senior 5 division, while in Intermediate 5 division Viktor Pijanec placed fourth, Jakov Novak and Marko Varga were the fifth, and Teo Putarek scored as the sixth. All prize winners were awarded drones. Our Intermediate 5 team won the seventh place trailing behind the fifth place by just two points. We were not the only Croatian school competing this year. The students from one of the best grammar schools in Zagreb, called XV. Gimnazija, participated in the ACSL contest as well. Their teams won the first and the third place.

The view of New York from the Empire State Building

After the competition, as a reward for those great results, the students from Varaždin spent a day visiting New York City. They experienced Manhattan and its attractions from above because they visited The Empire State Building Observatory which is situated on the 86th floor, but they also took a walk down the streets. Concrete jungle was completely dazzling with its vivid colors and enormous skyscrapers. Breathtaking Big Apple was not the only thing that will stay in the Croatian students’ memories. Hanging out with friends in the evenings, playing Cards Against Humanity and D&D was extraordinary. There was an additional twist during the journey back home – a real cherry on top was a short visit to Paris.

The famous Eiffel tower viewed from Place de Trocadéro .

If you like to program and if you are interested in Math and IT, you should pursue competing in ACSL. A bonus you get is a fantastic company and travelling to, otherwise, unreachable destinations.

Written by Marko Varga

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