By Stephanie Hu

For some students, computer programming means so much more to them than just a hobby.

Advanced OC Coder students attended the bi-monthly USA Computing Olympiad (USACO) training session held at Ardent Academy Northwood on Saturday, Jan. 7.

USACO, a computer programming contest for secondary students in the United States, gives participants an opportunity to demonstrate their skills each month. Students create their programs using one of five coding languages: C, C++, Java, Pascal and Python.

USACO Training

“I really like programming and teaching,” instructor and University High School senior Jason Ye said. “[These sessions] are the perfect match.”

Five students followed along on their laptops as Ye and two other volunteers explained the solutions to the previous month’s contest exercises.

“[My favorite part of teaching] is being able to teach them more about algorithms,” volunteer and sophomore Rishi Desai said. “You also end up learning a lot more for yourself, which is unexpected.”

Participants have the choice of entering their programs in one of four increasingly difficult levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

By learning the best ways to tackle challenging problems in these training sessions, students can apply their new knowledge to the next month’s contest. If participants perform well in their division, they can advance to a more difficult level.

“[These classes] are nice because I’m surrounded with people who share the same interest as me,” eighth grade student Yifeng Lin said. “If you want to start coding, just start small.”

For more information about USACO training classes, visit