Rising above the storm

On the day the storm closed Western Cape schools, one Paarl teacher made a plan to let her top three learners take part in the qualifying round of a national computer Applications Olympiad. For an hour on the unexpected ‘day off’, Marlene Dreyer  supervised as her learners tackled 25 tough tasks using Word, Excel, Access, and the internet. This effort got Mia into the national Applications Olympiad Finals four weeks later. Competing against 12 other finalists, Mia proceeded to win the gold medal. She described the day-long test as ‘challenging’ and the Olympiad as ‘an overall good experience’. Mia is in Grade 11 at Paarl Girls’ High School and plans to study Actuarial Science. She has provincial colours for mountain biking and might spend her prize money on cycling equipment or save it.

Heather Wimberley (Gr 10) from Brescia House in Sandton won silver and had ‘fun learning new skills’. She is also an outdoors person and a member of the Orienteering National Youth Squad. 

The other Silver medalist, and also from Gauteng, was Shan O’Neil (Gr 11) of Hoërskool Randburg. He said it was ‘a very fun test’ but wished he ‘had 2 more hours’. Like gold winner, Mia, he is also takes both computer subjects, CAT and IT (Information Technology). He wishes to ‘become a professional programmer’ and ‘study overseas’.

‘The girls did so well’ was the delighted comment from Moira de Roche of  the Institute of IT Professionals (IITPSA), the sponsor of this Applications Olympiad. Three of the six medal winners were from Girls’ Schools.

Danielle Victor (Gr 10) from Collegiate Girls’ High in Port Elizabeth won bronze, and has an interest in studying Pharmacy. The IITPSA offers a full bursary to attract particularly female learners to study at tertiary level in the ICT field.

Johannes van Graan, Head Boy at Hoërskool Witteberg, won a bronze medal. ‘Although it was really difficult… I learned a lot from the Olympiad’. Johannes plays 1st team rugby, participates in Mathematics, Science and World Knowledge Olympiads, and plans to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria.

Milan Smedley (Gr 12) from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch earned a bronze medal from the ‘unique experience’ of the Applications Olympiad. In line with his favourite subject being History, he only ‘listens to music from 1940 – 1990’ and may ‘make certain exceptions for good recent songs’. Milan plans to study to become a film director.

The key person for the Olympiad is an enthusiastic CAT teacher. The teacher’s role is to organise the learners and venue, and to download the data files. For online entries where broadband is adequate, learners take part online and their answers are marked by the computer and their results sent back to the school. There were 4 631 participants for whom results were received this year. The Olympiad office printed and posted 2 350 certificates to schools for the top 50% of the participants.

Cameron encourages schools to see the potential of the Olympiad to strengthen flexible thinking. ‘The Applications Olympiad tests skills in using word, spreadsheet and database applications and to think in fresh ways.’

For further Information:  Michael Cameron – Manager Computer Olympiad

Ph:         021-448-7864

Photos available on request.