NEWS HEADLINES

Stephens goes for gold next week

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, May 19, 2012

As graduation approaches, Slidell’s Katy Stephens is not letting up on her studies as she eyes bringing home at least one last prize.

The Slidell valedictorian is gearing up to match wits with the state’s best Monday and Tuesday at the University Interscholastic League’s academic meet in Austin. Stephens will compete in a pair of events – Computer Science and Literary Criticism.

Katy Stephens

“I’ve spent hours studying,” Stephens said. “I have a period during the day for it. Now that I’m done with many of my other classes, I spend a couple of other periods studying. I don’t feel I have a life – just studying.”

The senior will compete as part of a team and as an individual in both events. She hopes to capture a gold medal.

“Especially with how the year went, it’d be great to end with a gold medal,” Stephens said.

Stephens’ grandfather Roland Wilson, one of her biggest supporters, died in December.

This will be Stephens’ second straight trip to state in both events. Last year, she placed fourth individually in computer science and led the team to a second-place finish.

“We were happy with how we placed, but we were not satisfied,” she said. “We wanted to get the gold medal.”

In the computer science event, Stephens and fellow competitors will take a test filled with questions about how to build a computer program. The test is 45 minutes. She will then join her teammates – Daniel McCasland, Hunter Malone and Scott Zuniga – to spend two hours writing a computer program.

Stephens described it as two draining hours.

Slidell computer science coach and teacher Becky Reeder recalls Stephens coming in after school as a freshman when she couldn’t work the class into her schedule to get ahead.

“She’s kept after it all four years,” Reeder said.

“[The test] takes some critical thinking, and you have to trace a lot of code. There’s a lot to remember. Katy is a hard worker. Also her analytical skills for someone young are very strong, and that’s helped her.”

This year, Stephens didn’t have a computer science class, so she’s had to do all her preparation on her own.

In Literary Criticism, competitors answer 65 questions about books, plays and poetry. Stephens will be on a team with Caitlin Pruett, Morgan Barnes and Christen Epting.

Of the two events, Computer Science is Stephens’ favorite.

“I like it more because it deals more with numbers, and I’m more of a math person,” said Stephens, who is going to the University of Oklahoma to study to become a pharmacist.

Stephens won Class A Region II titles in both events and tries to balance her preparation in both.

“It’s different to study,” she said. “I’ll spend an hour studying for one then an hour for the other.”

Stephens balanced her preparation for UIL academics around UIL varsity basketball. As a senior guard and three-point specialist, Stephens helped the Lady Greyhounds to a third straight regional tournament.

She said she takes the same approach to academic competition as she does basketball.

“I want to win, and I’m real competitive in this, too,” Stephens said. “This is not quite as enjoyable, taking tests and studying. But I like to win, and getting a medal makes it worth it.”

HEADED TO AUSTIN

Slidell’s Katy Stephens is one of several Wise County students competing at the UIL Academic State meet Monday and Tuesday. Here’s a list of who qualified:

  • Katy Skogberg,
    Paradise – News writing
  • Tyler Sirman,
    Decatur – Current Issues and Events
  • Katy Stephens,
    Slidell – Computer Science, Literary Criticism
  • Caira Heinze,
    Slidell – Persuasive speaking, poetry
  • Daniel McCasland,
    Slidell – Computer Science
  • Scott Zuniga,
    Slidell – Computer Science
  • Hunter Malone,
    Slidell – Computer Science
  • Caitlin Pruett,
    Slidell – Literary Criticism
  • Morgan Barnes,
    Slidell – Literary Criticism
  • Christen Epting,
    Slidell – Literary Criticism

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