South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School has been recognized with the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course in the 2018-19 school year. Of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 earned this honor. Schools are recognized for expanding young women’s access to AP computer science courses by having a female enrollment of 50% or higher in CSP and/or AP Computer Science A.

The College Board, with the support of the National Science Foundation, developed the CSP course, which launched in 2016, to make computing coursework more engaging and accessible for all students. Providing female students with access to computer science courses is necessary to ensuring gender parity in high-paying tech industry jobs and to drive innovation, creativity and competition. A 2014 Google a href=””> found that women are more likely to pursue a computer science degree if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school.

At TZHS, Karen Connell and Barbara Murphy collectively teach six computer science courses: Intro to Gaming, Computer Science I and II, CSP, AP Computer Science A (CSA) and Computer Science Capstone. Both are founding advisors of the high school’s FIRST Robotics Competition team, SO BOTZ; Connell also advises the Computer Science Club and Computer Science Honor Society. “Ms. Connell and Ms. Murphy are great role models for our young women in the Computer Science program. They are a huge part of the program’s continued growth and success,” says Principal Rudy Arietta.

Capstone students Meaghan S. and Colette G., both seniors, say that taking computer science coursework in high school helped them explore their tech-oriented interests and prepare for college and career.

Meaghan, a Software Lead for SO BOTZ, plans to major in computer science and math at Vanderbilt University in the fall. “If I hadn’t started computer science in high school, things would be very different. I took my first course as a sophomore and, since then, I’ve chosen computer science as my electives,” she explains. In fact, Meaghan wrote her college essay about attending the annual NYC Girls Computer Science and Engineering Conference at New York University with Connell last year. “It was cool to hear about the interesting jobs these women had and it was good for networking. We met a woman from Google who invited us to visit–and we did!”

Colette G. heads the school’s Student Tech Support Team and plans to major in aerospace engineering at Purdue University. “Having taken college-level computer science courses in high school will be an advantage for me next year. As part of my Capstone project, I worked with an industry mentor on programming a medical device to reduce pain during lancing procedures. It was exciting to apply and build on what I’d learned in class to bring software and hardware together to develop a real product.”

TZHS teacher Karen Connell working with three female students on laptops