Laurel Ridge hosting free girls computer science camp on Saturdays

For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2018

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

cs camp

Interest in computer science and the STEM fields is being sparked among middle school girls thanks to a free Saturday camp offered at Laurel Ridge.

The CS (Computer Science) Girls camp started in late June and is running into October on various Saturdays. It’s for girls going into grades 6-9. Topics covered at each camp – girls can attend one or all sessions – include cyber safety, Alice/Java, Python/website design, Sphero Spark+ and website/app testing.

Because the camp is grant-funded through the National Center for Women & IT’s ApsireIT program, there is no cost to the girls attending.

“They’ve done robots,” says Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange. “They were doing Meccanoids and Ozoots. They’ve learned coding algorithms through cup stacking. They participated in the NSA (National Security Agency) Day of Cyber. They had a computer science unplugged class, which is computer science without the computers. For example, they used magic tricks to teach algorithms and coding.”

Two Sherando High School rising seniors, Rachel Stange – Professor Stange’s daughter – and Ashlyn Wilkinson, co-teach the camp. Representatives from Google and Apple are also expected to visit the camp, according to Melissa Stange.

“They both decided that middle schoolers were kind of left out of clubs, so they wanted to provide this opportunity to girls who can’t always afford to pay to learn about computer science,” Professor Stange says.

She says one girl has been coming to the camp all the way from Herndon.

Diana Kutai will be a seventh-grader at Johnson-Williams Middle School in Berryville, and her sister, Roselyne will be in the sixth-grade.

“I’m really into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities, and this camp seemed like a really nice opportunity for me,” Diana says. “My teachers recommended that I do it.”

Roselyne wanted to attend the camp because coding “sounded like fun.” Her favorite day involved working with robots.

Clarke County High School rising freshman Marisa de Cormier will be dual enrolled at Laurel Ridge.

“I want to have a career in tech of some sort, mostly programming, and this camp is a good place to learn that, especially since the world is changing so much,” she says. “It’s good for girls to have these kinds of opportunities.”

Both of the Sherando seniors teaching the class will earn their associate degrees from Laurel Ridge prior to high school graduation due to dual enrollment. Ashlyn Wilkinson plans to attend James Madison University and become a music teacher.

“My entire family background is in computers, so I have an interest in teaching Internet safety, but mostly, I’m helping lead this class so I can gain teaching experience,” she says.

Ashlyn’s co-teacher, Rachel Stange, hopes to work in forensic science or forensic nursing, but has been teaching internet safety to youngsters as part of her work with the Girl Scouts. She is a Girl Scout Ambassador and has earned the organization’s Gold Award.

“The girls have been having fun,” Rachel says. “The farther along in classes we get, the more we’re doing, so it gets a lot more fun the more we meet.”

The camp is running on various Saturdays until Oct. 13. Girls are asked to register by Sept. 1 to participate. To find out more or register, visit






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 (

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.