Valley News -

By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

First 'Family Code Night' at Hamilton K-8 School shows promise


Last updated 4/27/2018 at 9:54am

Tony Ault

Checking out a puzzle solution on computer during the first "Family Code Night" computer learning class at Hamilton K-8 School Thursday, April 19, is fifth-grader Christopher Williams, K-5 music teacher and assistant principal Tabitha Stillman, grandparents Teresa and Dale Turner and standing, Brooke Blackmore, parent and class code moderator.

Who was teaching who? Were the students teaching their parents or were parents teaching their students?

Both were learning about computers and computer programming Thursday, April 19, during Hamilton K-8 School's first "Family Code Night" with a program called, For the 14 Hamilton Elementary students and their parents, it was more than an "Hour of Code."

After the Family Code Night, it was hard to say if second-grader Christopher Williams was teaching his grandparents Teresa and Dale Turner about computer use or if it was the other way around.

"I don't use computers," Dale Turner said, looking at Christopher who was helping working out a computer puzzle with "Flappy Bird."

"This is great," he mused, then asked his grandson to show how he solved the puzzle so quickly.

Both grandparents were learning computer skills for the first time with their grandson through the new school student-parent computer learning program.

Tabitha Stillman, Hamilton School's assistant principal/teacher, said it was hard for her and the three parent helpers to say who was learning about the computers using a computer programming video game quicker – the students or parents and grandparents, but everyone was learning.

In addition, the new Family Code Night program at the school fulfills the Hemet Unified School District's effort to create more interaction and school engagement between parents and their school children, Stillman said.

The Family Code Night idea, with an Hour of Code, started as a one-hour introduction to computer science and was designed to demystify "code," to show that anybody can learn the basics and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts like the one at Hamilton K-8 school. The campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide, according to their website,

Stillman said the idea to start the Family Code Night began after seeing a video on the "Hour of Code" presented by at the White House two years ago.

"Why can't we have that here," Stillman said.

Brooke Blackmore, mother of fifth-grader Karelyn Blackmore and a longtime school supporter, provided her computer talents to help teach the Hour of Code program to the other students and teachers. At end of the evening program, she pointed out the increasing need in the current job market for computer programmers and technicians and that it should become a skill the Hamilton school students could use to find top-paying jobs in the future. She mentioned the successes of computer pioneers Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to the students and parents.

Tony Ault

Hamilton K-8 School PTA liaison Catalina Lopez takes a question about what computer programming is at the first "Family Code Night" computer class for both students and parents taught at the school Thursday, April 19.

Karelyn was quick to solve all the Hour of Code Flappy Bird puzzles with her fourth grade partner Zane Bahash. Nine-year-old Zane proudly got up to the teachers podium to tell the other students and parents how he solved the most difficult of Flappy Bird puzzles.

Not to be outdone by Karelyn and Zane was Wyatt, 10, a fifth-grader who with his mother, JoRen Dulaney, quickly learned and solved every problem and all the computer terminology, like "debugging," "conditionals – if-what else" and "coding," as presented in the course.

Assisting with the Family Code Night in the class were Catalina Lopez, Hamilton PTA school liaison, and Aurora Perez, Hamilton School attendance clerk.

Stillman said that more coding programs may be coming to the school. She said other students from middle and high schools could participate with their parents online in a coding program on the and

Tony Ault can be reached by email at [email protected]


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