Robotics team heads to Regionals on Wednesday | Send-off at 4 pm

Robotics team
Robotics team

by Mykaela Jones

The West Grand High School Robotics team has qualified for super regionals for the second year in a row. Team 7224, along with Lori Birch, were awarded with the 2nd place Inspire Award at their state competition.

In a recent interview, Birch talked about what the award means to her as a teacher, and how the effect of the award has impacted her students. Birch has been teaching technology based classes at West Grand for a little over a decade now, and is thrilled with the success that her robotics teams have accomplished over the last few years. With the robotics teams having accomplished and completed so many of their goals and then some this year. She spoke highly and with positivity in her voice when the kids of robotics came up. She said, “The group we have now have displayed more teamwork, work ethic, drive, and problem solving skills than any team I’ve ever coached.” I can’t begin to wrap my head around the achievements. It is mind blowing. I guess you could say that we are following that model of ‘anyone can do it’ and that makes me proud.”

With each successful child one can find a supportive and hard-working teacher there to help guide them in the right direction.

That is why Jonathan Belcher posted on the WGHS Facebook page he knew the students had to nominate Birch for The Compass Award. She not only embraces the message of FIRST (an international high school robotics competition), but goes above and beyond the call of duty , spending countless hours, resources, and dedication the robotics program. She was awarded this at the robotics state competition.

Regarding the most recent competitions she said her teams were able to take away the spot from a team who had won world last year. She says that the chance to go to super regionals again is a blessing considering how hard each kid has worked to achieve it. For those of you who are unaware the Inspire Sward is given out by the robotics league when a team shows a number of qualities as both individuals and as a whole team unit. Many qualities which the West Grand Robotics kids have displayed multiple times throughout their year built on their hard work and dedication to the art of robotics.

Birch further elaborated on what the award means to their team as a whole and what it should mean to the community by saying, “When you get an Inspire Award it shows your team has embraced not only building a robot, but that they are an inspiration to other teams, showing gracious professionalism, and that they have a huge amount of enthusiasm in embracing principles of FIRST.” Birch credits the robotics team as role models to the community, and mentioned that they have not only embraced this awesome opportunity, but also have embraced being competitive outside of competition which she mentions as being important and what makes it so valuable to the kids.

What does it take to get to super regionals? This was a question on the minds of many in the community, as robotics , quite frankly, has become a pretty big and awesome deal for this sleepy little mountain town. Well in order to make it to the level that the program has, Birch had a few things to add. What the community really needs to understand is that robotics isn’t as straightforward as other sports and activities that the community is familiar with. Using the example of state competition. To put it into perspective, Birch says, “All together, kids will go through a whole season in one weekend. Not only are you competing to be ranked but you also go into the league championship.”

In order to qualify for super regionals, teams must rank 288 out of 5,119. In other words only the top 6% of teams in the whole nation can participate These kids are problem solving on the spot and creating solutions as they go, all while maintaining professionalism, and hard work ethic.

In the discussion of what she is the most proud of, Lori Birch concluded, “We have taken a small Colorado team with limited engineering resources and achieved top 6% two years in a row, which I would say is quite the achievement. Truly the only way they’ve achieved it is because of their passion and desire for what they are doing. I am only a small part of that.”

Community support is very much appreciated by the team. Support them in a send off through town on Wednesday March 7 at 4:00 pm. See the Booster Club Facebook page or WGHS Robotics page for more details as we get closer.

Regional Science Fair Results

On February 25 and 26 West Grand took 21 middle and high school students to compete in the Western Colorado Regional Science Fair at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Eight high school projects and one middle school project advanced to the finals round determine state finalists. The following students will be advancing to the Colorado State Science and Engineering Fair in April: Jonathan Belcher, Jayden Edson, and James Rindt (earning 2nd place), Angel Castillo (earning 3rd place), Khai Hughes, Gracean Hoesli, Illiana Castillo, and Faris Jones. Special awards this year included a certificate and a cash award. Khai Hughes took 1st with Soil and Water Conservation Society, Jayden, Jonathen, and James took 2nd place. Caitlyn Belcher recieved the American Statistical Society Award. West Grand is very prod of these students that represented West Grand at the regional fair and looks forward to those moving on the represent West Grand at the state level.