In It To Win It: Happy Valley Middle students fare well in first robotics competition

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Kole Havner, seated, fields advice from teammates Tuesday afternoon.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Kole Havner, seated, fields advice from teammates Tuesday afternoon.

A handful of students from Happy Valley Middle School are continuing their goal of “breaking barriers” across the state.
It’s suitable motto for the HVMS Robotics Team. The Warriors had the opportunity over the weekend to compete in their first ever robotics competition in Jefferson County and pulled away with a third place finish against 13 other high school and middle school teams.
“I think it went awesome for our kids,” HVMS teacher Mike Dorsey told the Elizabethton Star Tuesday afternoon as students worked on their robots. “It’s like I said before, I didn’t know what to expect as a coach. It was a new experience for all of us, we competed against high school and middle schools and all of our kids during very well.”
Creating a culture is the prime objective for the team, according to student Zach Stephens. Stephens, who helped pushed for the program, is joined on the team by Hailey Crawford, Kole Havner, Adam Sheppard, Eli Phillips, Lucas Chausse, Autumn Lyons, Cayden Campbell and Cameron Buck.
“Whenever I found out (the team) was going to happen, I was really excited,” Stephens said. “I didn’t know what to expect. As we got more support, it became more obvious there everything involved with this would work out. When we got to the competition, we were able to say ‘wow, we did it.’ It was a great feeling to be part of the first competition.”
Each of the students played a key role during the weekend event. Stephens served as the team’s programmer and student-coach and even helped the squad earn some extra points with some coding on their robots.
“It’s kind of complicated at first with inspection,” Havner, who served as the driver for Team 1. “You get nervous because they come by and judge your robot on everything and keep asking questions. If the judges think you’re robot is good, they’ll come by and nominate you for an award. The competition … it’s just overwhelming. You work on the strategy with your teammates, you do what you’re told and try your best to help the team.”
Eli Phillips, who served as a driver for Team 2, added the experience was fun because of the opportunity to drive the robot in the competition.
Along with Phillips, Lyons recalled the weekend was an enjoyable time.
“Being able to participate in this has been so much fun,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in unique things. We plan to just modify everything this week to get ready for our next competition.”
HVMS is just one of three schools up this way before Knoxville (Johnson County and Sullivan North) that have a robotics program in place. The Warriors will be a little closer home this weekend with a competition scheduled at Johnson County.
HVMS’ robots, Warwick and Doc, work in specific events, and the students go through different aspects throughout a game, including troubleshooting and maneuvering the robots in the hopes of coming away with the top prize.
Dorsey also thanked the multiple sponsors and individuals that have provided support for the team. With only one team in place, the students are hoping to see more in the future.
Anybody seeking to make a contribution or wanting to sponsor the “warbots” can visit the HVMS website ( or call the school at (423) 547-4070.

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