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Transcript: Hack Club 2017 Welcome Presentation

by Mingjie Jiang
Sep 15, 2017
 · 6 minutes read

Modified with formal language

Hello, everyone.

My name is Mingjie, and if you don’t know me yet, I’m the leader of Wootton Hack Club. I’ve been programming for 4 years, and I’ve worked on JavaScript, Java, and a tiny bit of database querying. I didn’t “create” Hack Club; I joined them upon their invitation back in January, and got more involved with the headquarters in August by running their social media.

Yes, I am going to deliver a long speech. But I’m not going to talk about some boring “Computer Science is for everyone” crap. That’s common sense. I don’t need to waste 15 minutes on that.

So, speaking of how I “joined” them… What exactly is Hack Club?

When most people think of Hack, they think about those black hoodie nerds wearing a mask staying in a super dark room facing a black screen typing green colored code to hack into people’s bank accounts and steal money. Well, that’s exactly what we don’t want people to focus on.


According to the Hack Club organization FAQ, “When we say ‘hack’, we’re referring to solving problems cleverly with code – just like ‘life hacking’, except with computers. When members of Hack Clubs hack, they’re building apps, websites, games, and anything else you can imagine”.

So calm down… We are completely legal and positive.

Hack Club is not one club. It is a league of clubs all around the world. We are not the only Hack Club. In fact, as of this summer, there are over 150 Hack Clubs just like us doing all kinds of great things all around the world.

So back to my point. Why do you want to be in Hack Club, or Wootton Hack Club, instead of going to some school sponsored ones like programming help or computer science honors society?

I’ll give you a couple reasons for that.

First of all, school programming courses sucked. “How dare you challenge the curriculum?” Well, here’s why.


These are some of the most common lines that you may hear from your computer science teachers. Think about it. Think about how many times you are bothered by these “rules”. Is that really what computer science is? Did Zuckerberg create Facebook following a certain “algorithm”? Did anyone teach Bill Gates how to design that operating system called MS-DOS?
Half a year ago, Zach Latta, the guy who created Hack Club, talked to me about this topic. I feel like it is necessary to share some of the information we went through with all of you.

Currently, according to, only 40% of the high schools in the United States offer computer science classes. And even worse… Very few of these schools actually know how to teach programming. There is no “right” way to learn to program, and there is no “right” answer to a programming test question. Actually, programming classes shouldn’t even be given tests.

Now think about it. You’ve passed the AP-CSP test, you’ve been taking programming courses 1, 2, 3. But by looking at the AP programming test, (which is one of the most popular computer science courses offered in the United States), I can only see that students are forced to stay in a classroom taking notes all year in order to know how to do some of the easiest things like breaking a word into individual characters and displaying them in a grid (from AP Computer Science A 2011 FRQ #4). What is that for? Is that useful? Is it even solving a problem? No. It’s the curriculum makers creating an unnecessary problem for us to solve.

Ok. I know that we need to be taught the concepts. But how many of you actually utilized the concepts? How many of you have, outside of class, created a project, an app, or a game that looks good, and actually get their own user group, instead of looking like some old 90s console game, running only for a shiny “A” in the grade book?

Fine. Enough roasts.

But we still have to appreciate the county for continuously supporting our technology education programs. We’re lucky, we became one of the only 40% of high schools in the entire nation that offers a decent amount of tech courses.

Wootton High School is located in one of the most affluent areas in Maryland; but even so, not everyone in the school is able to afford the technology pathway, as it is highly time, money and brain-power consuming. Think about what you’ll need to make a personal, let’s say, blog.

You need a computer, of course, and it has to be a decent one – not those $120 Chromebooks, but more likely a $400+ branded laptop.

And you need those software… Using open-source software like Eclipse, Atom or Visual Studio Code, but the cost of some other essential softwares like the JetBrains Bundle may not be that affordable for high schoolers.

You need a server to run your blog on, no matter if you are generating a static site or running on a CMS platform like WordPress. It costs around $5/month at a minimum.

Some other services you might need includes a online notebook, a code version management software/platform, or more. These might not be that expensive, but are still a part of the cost.

We found the problem. And over the summer, we’ve worked our butts off to get the maximum amount of educational sponsorship from different companies. These companies have generously offered us free use of their services or softwares, and it covers most of the cost to start off your project. Talk to me if you need any of the sponsored content – and even if you go over the cap for our sponsorship, you’ll still get a discount for some of them.

We talked about friends. Hack Club is an inclusive environment. That means we welcome people of all races, sex, belief, and we do not discriminate against languages. We strongly encourage you to work with a couple friends; if you don’t have any yet, make some! Sparks of ideas of some of the most successful companies today initiated from high school. Also, you can build your project in any programming language. Remember, at Hack Club, we don’t teach you how to program; we tell you what to program.


Thank you all for your attention. And welcome to Hack Club.

We will now move on to our icebreaker activity, and we’ll start with our secretary, Larissa.

Speech delivered: 9/13/2017 2:45 PM

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