Granville robotics team competes in California

vex-kidsBy Jaime Thomas

More than 400 teams from all over America and the world gathered in Anaheim, Calif., last week for the Vex Robotics World Championship.

Four students and a teacher from Granville were among them. Accompanied by their teacher, Gary Gendron, Marc Billow, Christina Rice, Jordon Penor and Joey Lea competed 10 times over three days.

The group gave a presentation about their experience at the Vex Dome, a huge arena, at a school board meeting Monday night.

“The energy in that room was incredible; there was so much excitement for robotics,” Billow said. Gendron said the students did OK the first day, but “the second day wasn’t as good to us.” He said while the Granville students were competitive, there were up against some “really” good teams.

However, the fact that they made it to the competition at all is impressive.

“It’s important to remember too that all these teams had to qualify for these events. Others go to 10 to 12 competitions to qualify for the worlds. I think it’s amazing that we qualified with only two competitions,” Gendron said.

The students expressed similar thoughts. They said other teams they talked with from wealthier school districts were impressed they had made it so far on a limited budget and small program. The team also said it was eye-opening to meet and interact with students from other countries.

“It was an awesome experience to be able to see different cultures come together at the end of the competition. We were all there for a common goal and the same reason, it was instant friendship,” Billow said.

“It was really cool to talk with them and see the difference in culture,” Rice said.

During the meeting, John Shaw, president of the board of education, told the students they made Granville proud, and board members handed out certificates of appreciation. He also thanked Gendron for opening the door for his students.

“I’m thrilled the kids made it, and I’m thrilled the teacher has the gumption to get them out there. It’s teachers like Gary and Terry Wheeler that give them the opportunities to get out there. And I’m thrilled with the community for stepping forward to get out there and support them,” Shaw said on Tuesday.

In turn, the students handed out thank you letters to members of the board to thank them and the community for providing the financial support they needed for the trip.

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