Author Gene Yang Inspires Students at Stonewall Middle

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Provided by Prince William County Schools

It’s not every day that Stonewall Middle School students receive an ambassador, but when they do, it’s Gene Yang, the Library of Congress Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

A PBS news crew arrived at the school with Yang to film his presentation on reading, his newest book, and a short lesson on understanding binary code. Seventh- and eighth-graders were “enthralled with Ambassador Yang’s tales of the early days of coding and how he bases graphic novel characters on real life heroes in the history of coding such as Grace Hopper,” said school librarian Linda Mitchell.

Students took turns cracking-code on the big screen in front of the audience.

“We are thrilled to report all students who tried successfully cracked a binary code riddle just like in Mr. Yang’s graphic novel series, Secret Coders. Ambassador Yang encouraged students to join the school’s after-school Cyber Security Club,” said Mitchell. Two teams of students are currently competing in the national Cyberpatriot IX competition.

Yang also shared how learning coding has helped in all areas of his professional life as a teacher, author, and graphic novelist.

Yang is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. The fellowship award recognizes talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality, dedication in their creative pursuits, and a marked capacity for self-direction.

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