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SHIPROCK — A group of nine Shiprock High School students recently completed an eight-week coding workshop that provided web development training designed to encourage them to pursue a career in the field.

Members of the Cultivating Coders staff were assisting students who were finishing up projects Thursday in anticipation of presenting them during a ceremony on Friday. The Albuquerque-based technology company started teaching free web development workshops in rural areas and on Native American reservations to help bring courses to under-served communities in New Mexico.

Charles Sandidge, the company’s chief technology officer and lead instructor, led the company’s first workshop in Farmington at the All Saints Church that finished in June. The Episcopal Church in Navajoland partnered with the company to sponsor three workshops.

The Shiprock workshop was sponsored by the nonprofit group Teach for America. Representatives of the organization were so impressed by the program when they visited the Farmington workshop earlier this year, Sandidge said they helped fund and set up the Shiprock program within three weeks.

“They loved the idea and loved what we were doing,” Sandidge said.

Students like 16-year-old Amber Henderson said it was a unique opportunity for Shiprock High students to attend a program like this.

“It’s amazing. It’s awesome,” Henderson said. “It’s really cool that it’s on the (Navajo) reservation.”

Henderson has been searching for a coding program to attend after reading several articles in Seventeen magazine about coding, including an article about a group of women who developed a fashion application for smartphones.

“It’s really complicated and kind of hard, but it’s worth it,” Henderson said about learning to code. “It’s really fun.”

The Shiprock High students are the first Cultivating Coders group to be taught the MEAN stack, a collection of Javascript-based technologies. MEAN stands for MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS and Node.js.

Sandidge said the company shifted to the MEAN stack after speaking to employers who are looking for web developers who can code in the higher-level Javascript level.

“They’ll have a base in something that is extremely employable,” Sandidge said.

Jeff Sagor, Shiprock High School assistant principal, said it was humbling to be in the classroom with the students and see how advanced their skills are.

“They are doing things with computers and coding I imagine Google engineers are doing on a daily basis,” Sagor said. “Which, to be happening at Shiprock High School, is truly transformational.”

For their final projects, the students were tasked with updating the high school’s website, creating a new website for the yearbook and developing a new website for the new Jr. Creative Coders club. The club is being formed to help the students continue to increase the knowledge they gained during the boot camp and encourage new students to join.

“I would really like for it to get bigger, and maybe if it gets bigger, we can do a lot more,” Henderson said.

Sandidge envisions the students building websites for local businesses and nonprofit organizations to raise money for new equipment and possibly trips to technology conferences.

Henderson and 16-year-old Alan Taliman are both looking to turning their coding skills into a career following graduation.

“I’ve wanted to learn how to code. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time,” Taliman said.

It has been interesting for Taliman to learn the coding languages and how they work to build a web application.

“It’s really fascinating to me. It’s really awesome,” Taliman said.

After learning about the number of careers that feature coding, Henderson is ready to go further with it.

“This is something I would really like to learn more about and go further with,” Henderson said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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