SPARK! students crack the code behind winning $10,000


Betsy Wait

Seniors Samuel Wait and Matt Sauer hold their oversized $5,000 checks from Globalhack V.

With over 44 collegiate and professional teams attending St. Louis’ Globalhack V coding challenge, some groups even venturing from as far as California and Canada in order to win 1st place, no one expected three Parkway high schoolers to win 3rd place overall and $10,000 collectively.

Seniors Matt Sauer, Greg Cordover (Parkway Central) and Sam Wait, all members of Parkway’s SPARK! technology program, were encouraged to enter the competition by their teacher, Michael Palmer. The coding challenge? Create a tool that would aid users in navigating the St. Louis Municipal Court System.

“We designed a website ( which helped users determine if they had unpaid fines, warrants or court dates that needed to be drawn to their attention,” Wait said. “We also developed a phone service that people could call along with our website which no other group in the competition thought up. It’s easy and convenient for users and it added another dimension to our program that ultimately set us apart and helped us place in the top three.”

The SPARK! team’s talent was not only recognized by the judges, who awarded them $5,000 as the best high school team at the competition and an additional $5,000 as third place overall, but also by their fellow competitors.

SPARK! rocked the house. When I saw what that group accomplished, I wondered where we would land. When they were also announced as the third place Pro-winners (well-deserved), I wondered if that might have knocked us out of the race,” Becca Williams, member of the first place team Inveo, said to

Despite the team’s success, they faced numerous complications during the process, including time constraints and lack of sleep.

“I probably got 6 hours of sleep the whole weekend. The competition started on a Friday evening and we had 48 hours to perfect our product and present it to the judges,” Sauer said. Greg did most of the coding

The key to SPARK!’s success was that each member of the team brought a unique set of skills to the project.

“Matt and Sam came up with ideas, and I turned them into reality. Sam helped make sure the product was functional and secure, and Matt came up with layout ideas and worked some on the code with me,” Cordover said.

Not only did placing third overall evoke a sense of accomplishment for the boys, it also opened the door to post high-school opportunities.

“All I could think was ‘wow’. I had never done something like this before and winning in both the high school division and third place overall was extremely rewarding. It’s amazing that something I enjoy doing can help me fund future endeavors like college ,” Wait said.