HVMS students qualify for state robotics competition

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2017

With only one year with experience, a handful of Warriors are setting a standard for future builders.

Happy Valley Middle School recently sent five teams to a recent regional robotics competition featuring various high schools across the state in Chattanooga over the weekend and were able to reap the rewards of a successful showing – and make some history.

HVMS Team V, comprised of of Zach Stephens, Jackson Taylor and Clara Smith, came away as a top performer against Brentwood High School and both teams were able to punch their tickets to the upcoming state championships in March.

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“They did a tremendous job,” said HVMS teacher and robotics sponsor Mike Dorsey. “We sent five teams to the competition and (Zach, Jackson and Clara) were able to keep pace with Brentwood Academy. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Team V is the first team from Carter County to qualify for the state competition in the history of the community. Along with the qualification, the also punched their ticket to a national competition to be held in Iowa in 2018.

Excitement continues to brew for the second year of the program, which received a boost earlier this year with grant funding provided by the East Tennessee Foundation. During the new year, Dorsey indicated the students have enjoyed the growth of the program.

Stephens, who helped generate interest for the program, likes what he sees for the future of robotics across Carter County.

“At first, it was just an idea,” Stephens recently told the Elizabethton Star. “It has continued to grow since our inaugural year. This school and community is getting behind us. It’s beyond overwhelming. I’m excited to see the progress. I think it is a mark of showing the growing interest in STEM in the community. Everything is becoming so technology-driven and it is great to get an early start on it.”

Dorsey added the event was a key growing experience for the team, and added the students took a lot out of the trip.

“They (Team V) made history,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them and the rest of the students that participated in the competition.”