High school girls participate in Laurel Ridge’s first girls-only tech camp

For Immediate Release:
June 18, 2018

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

tech girls

Area high school girls spent last week at Laurel Ridge learning to code, build a website, put together a computer, and develop apps during the TechGirlz Summer Camp. They also explored cybersecurity. The camp marks the college’s first-ever tech camp just for high school girls.

The students – along with three teachers – came from Clarke County, Strasburg, Warren County and Skyline high schools. Thanks to Perkins Post-Secondary Grant funding, the half-day camp was free for the students.

Associate Professor of Information Technology Darrell Andrews, who served as camp director, said the area high school teachers taught some components of the camp, while representatives from the IT field, such as Apple, handled other parts of the instruction. Two representatives from Oath, a Verizon company, also volunteered at the camp.

“We know that even today, there are fewer girls than boys entering the STEM fields, including computer engineering, computer networking, computer programming, computer science, cybersecurity, and telecommunications, just to name a few career options,” Andrews said. “A camp like TechGirlz is a fun and interactive way to expose high school girls to the various ways they can use tech skills, and hopefully spark a passion that can lead them to an exciting career pathway.

“For those who remember the 1983 movie “War Games” starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, the young female lead possessed very limited computer/tech skills, and could only ask questions of others. Juxtapose that with the recent film “Ready Player One,” in which the young female lead was as tech-savvy – if not more so – than the young male lead of the novel and film.

“Today, we must do all that we can to prepare young women to be able to compete on a level playing field, and to adequately meet the nation’s – and the world’s – needs for a skilled, knowledgeable, and technologically-capable workforce.”

On Friday, the girls built their own Raspberry Pi3 computers, said Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange.

“Just this year, I’ve started wanting to be an engineer,” said Jessica Fikac, a rising junior at Clarke County High School. “I thought taking this class would expand my knowledge and allow me to see what kind of engineer I would like to be. I’ve really enjoyed the coding and programming I’ve done here. Because of this camp, I’m now interested in coding.”

Her favorite part of the camp was building the mBot, a robotic kit from Makebot.

“I have to say the programming and building the hardware and software were my favorite aspects of the camp,” said Strasburg High School sophomore Joely Morgan. “I had a lot of fun doing that. Actually, I’ve had a lot of fun all week.”

Clarke County High School physics teacher Alicia Panzarella described the camp as “awesome.

“I’m here to be a part of a really innovative program, to really start to get girls interested in some subjects for which they might not have enough information yet, and to get them on the path of their future careers.

“I really didn’t know what to expect coming in, but it’s been amazing. The hands-on activities have been the most beneficial part.”

Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions is continuing the girl power trend this week, with its Coding for Girls Camp, a program using “Scratch” for girls ages 8 to 14.


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.