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Davis Journal

Bountiful High School’s computer programming pathway gives kids real-world skills

Jan 25, 2024 09:10AM ● By Becky Ginos
Josh Petersen explains a computer program he’s working on. Petersen wants to go into the field in the future. Photos by Becky Ginos

Josh Petersen explains a computer program he’s working on. Petersen wants to go into the field in the future. Photos by Becky Ginos

BOUNTIFUL—Technology has taken the world by storm and today’s kids are learning the skills to keep up. At Bountiful High School the Computer Science pathway in the CTE (Careers and Technical Education) program is doing just that. Kids are getting hands-on experience in coding, video game design and basic computer skills that give them a chance to explore possible careers.

“The program is growing quite a bit,” said teacher Ryan Frandsen. “There are six classes. Kids can explore each level and see if they have an interest in it. We do beginning and intermediate classes here and then if they want to continue we send them to the Catalyst Center for more professional experience there.”

Josh Petersen is a junior at Bountiful High and had never taken a computer science class until second semester last year. “I saw a poster in the commons and thought it looked fun,” he said. “I thought ‘why not take it, it sounds interesting.’ I got sucked in and never stopped.”

Petersen said he likes the program in general. “It’s fun learning all the things you can do with programming. My favorite thing is Frandsen, he is an amazing teacher. He gets to know everyone on a personal level and not many teachers do.”

Petersen’s future plans include the computer science field. “I’m currently in a game design class,” he said. “I want to be in video game development for sure, and maybe go into software engineering. Something in the field.”

“Frandsen inspired me to go into the computer science field,” said junior Aubrey Tuttle. “He gives us creative freedom. He gives an assignment then lets you choose what you want to do. You can create a picture using the software and animate it. It’s so fun.”

Tuttle has taken computer programming one, exploring computer science and computer programming two. “I’d like to go into cyber security,” she said. “That appeals to me.” 

“I play a lot of video games,” said Alex Avis, also a junior. “In elementary school we used Scratch to be able to make something. I decided to try out computer programming one in high school and found out I was good at it. I want to keep going and make it a career.”

Avis said he’d like to be in game development. “That’s what I want to do. Game studios hire you and you work as a team to develop a game but I want to make one myself. I want to make indie games and use programming to create art, music and storytelling. Every single facet that can be put into a game.” 

Frandsen was actually a business teacher at West Jordan Middle School before he became a computer science teacher. “They tried to hire someone but couldn’t find one so I jumped to computer science,” he said. “Computer coding was a hobby of mine. After school I took coding classes and took classes at Utah State. It gave me the equivalent of a minor from USU.”

In high school, Frandsen was an outdoor education counselor. “In college I also worked with kids,” he said. “At BYU I was a special education para professional. I also worked in the residential treatment field as a director working with troubled kids. I still loved it so I knew I could work with anyone. I wanted to make sure I could teach anyone, not just the right ones. I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do.”

Frandsen said he loves teaching. “It’s my superpower. I’ve loved teaching since I was in high school. Learning all sides of the kids makes it more fun for me.”

Sometimes in elementary and junior high classes kids get burned out, said Frandsen. “They have a horrible experience and never want to take a computer class again. I want them to leave my class loving it. That’s the biggest win of all for me. That’s my favorite thing. That’s the goal, that’s the dream.”