South Coding Club Participates in PClassic Coding Competition

On November 20th , 2021, the CB South Coding Club participated in their first coding competition of the year, the Philadelphia Classic (PClassic). Six different teams from South’s coding club competed – the Recursion Gamers, the Assemblers, Abunabu, Team one, Team two, and Team three- out of a total of 72 teams.

The club met up at South and worked on their computers to compete in the actual event. “This is specifically because of COVID,” club co-president Michael Rehmet explained. “Two years ago, we did have this same competition in person and it was hosted at UPenn.”

He continued, “Before, you would basically go in person to UPenn and it would be like a big room or hallway where everyone would be able to set up and work on the problems that they directly sent and submit it to them, whereas this year, the competition was held through a website called”

In previous years, PClassic invited guest speakers to come and present to the competitors. This year they did have some speakers on a YouTube livestream, but it “wasn’t quite the same,” Michael said. During the competition, teams had four hours to solve eight coding problems, with the problems scaling in difficulty. Novice teams, which was the level that South’s teams were at, solved problems numbered one through eight, while advanced teams solved those enumerated five through twelve, with twelve being the most challenging question in the whole competition.

Michael explained the process of solving the problems. “First, you would have to copy and paste what they call stub code from the PClassic Website. It’s basically code that needs to be set up that you don’t have to create yourself but has to be there in order for the problem to work. Then you add your own code to that in order to do what the problem is asking.”

He continued, “a lot of them are similar to that in that they basically ask you to write your own function or method and they give you like a string or integers or an array or something of that kind and you have to return something based on that.”

The PClassic features a different theme every year, with this year’s theme being animals. Problems featured characters such as the aforementioned Porco the Porcupine and Ptolemy the Pterodactyl.

“They give you a list of arrays of three integers and based on that and the specific rules the question has, you have to return an integer equal to the number of pterodactyls that got hit by dodgeballs whose temperatures sum to zero,” Michael said. “It makes no sense, but it’s pretty hilarious when you see it in the question.”

Michael was a member of the Recursion Gamers, consisting of himself, Mason McClintic, and Rachel Feng. They placed twelfth within the novice division, making them the highest placing of the six South teams, all of whom competed as novice teams.

The other South teams who placed within the top 36 novice teams were the Assemblers (Alexander Kozik, Aashish Cheruvu, Connor Whitman, and Nathan Cherny) in 15th place, Abunabu (Varun Rao and Abhi Tondapu) in 24th, and Team three (Soham Kakadia, Jaimin Fee, and Samuel Kim) in 31st.

“The competition was very fun, because we got to go to South on the weekend and – that’s not the fun part,”; Michael laughed. “But we brought food so there was pizza, brownies, sodas, IZZEs. And there was cake!” He added, “It was a fun time to hang out and you're not really coding the whole time because you have four hours and you need to have some breaks or you’ll probably not be thinking straight so you do have time to talk to friends.”

The Coding Club intends to participate in the PClassic’s spring competition this year as well in addition to a separate competition that is purely online. It takes place over multiple months instead of only consisting of a few hours like the PClassic. “You do a few problems every month. It’s like small sections of a competition and your school’s overall score is from those various sections. You do it independently in your house,” Michael explained.

The Coding Club is a fairly new club, as it was founded in 2018, but it has experienced significant growth during its tenure here at South, currently boasting over 80 members!

“The growth has been pretty good considering last year it was hard to reach out to people and get people interested in the club because everything was online,” Michael said. “Overall, I think we’ve been fairly successful and we have a nice mix of various grade levels and a range of coding skills as well.”

“The point is to get people interested in coding, to get people to practice coding,” Michael explained. “Even if they don’t plan to go into [computer science], coding is still a useful skill and there’s a lot of practical applications for it.” The club aims to foster programming skills in its members and to create a space where anyone can learn coding, an increasingly valuable ability in the 21st century.

The Recursion Gamers. Photo provided by Michael Rehmet.










Michael Rehmet, Rachel Feng, and Mason McClintic