Wearing shirts that voiced their motto to “Dream Big“ and presenting robots that displayed their technology talents, the Natalia Robotics students were determined to continue a tradition and “represent” at the 2019 TCEA Area Robotics contest this year. The contest was held at Cornerstone Christian School, in San Antonio, this past Saturday. The students had a goal to make it to state for the eleventh year in a row. These hard working students put in the time to reach that goal in a big way, by taking home 1st and 2nd place in the Invention contest and third in the arena contest. The 1st and 2nd place invention teams automatically advance to represent Area 20 at the TCEA State Robotics competition, in April, this year.
This was a rebuilding year for Natalia, who lost many seniors at the end of last year, but with hard work and teamwork they were successful. The first place invention team was made up of juniors, Reese Mc Dole, as team captain and Destiny Martinez and Jayden Garcia along with first year competitor Anissa Morales who is a sophomore. This was the third year of competition for McDole, second year for Martinez and Garcia. Their invention robot is called Jan, and is a robotic janitor that empties and cleans trash cans, as well as, vacuums floors autonomously.
The second place Invention team was made up of junior Jaylyn Fulton, and sophomores Maximus Rodriguez, and Christian Flores. This was the first time for all of them to compete. Their robot, called Paint Bot, was an autonomous wall painting robot.
Natalia’s third place arena team was made up of team Captain, Persephone Walsh, who is a sophomore along with juniors, Alexis Culver, Victoria Martinez, Joseph Helton and Sabrina Ramon. This was Walsh’s third year to compete, the second year for Culver and Martinez. Team members Ramon and Helton did not attend the competition as they were competing elsewhere for the day, but the building talents of Helton and the programming talents of Ramon played a big part in the success of their robot. The team actually ended the contest tied for second in points, but with a tie breaker came in third. Their team could possibly get a wild card position to advance to the state competition. Natalia also had a second arena team made up of Jeremiah Gomez and Jacob Jass. Team managers were Senior Daniel Ramirez and Pamela Mora.
Each year, as their sponsor, I get to watch these amazing students put in the hard work that they need to compete and advance to the next level of competition. This year is somewhat special to me as I will be retiring at the end of this year. I am so proud of all the students who have participated through the years and look forward to the program continuing in the future. There is stress, there is creativity, long hours and teamwork that goes into their preparation. It is all worth it, in the long run, when they can represent their fellow students in this academic contest in a big way each year. This winning tradition, while a little scary at times, is what keeps the robotics students focused on the ultimate goal to make it to state and be a contender for that top spot.
By Candace DeJesus