Opinion

Forecast for students on Oak Harbor team is bright | Letters

Editor,

This has been a “Cinderella Year” for Oak Harbor’s Wildcat Robotics Team.

The season started with its usual fast-paced intensity in early January ,with the team working six days per week to design and build a 120 pound robot to compete in FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — events, while still mentoring two junior robotics teams.

The Wildcats were enthusiastic as they entered their first competition and their hard work paid off — they walked away with the NASA-sponsored “Engineering Inspiration” trophy at their first district competition in Mount Vernon in March.

In early April, they did it again by winning the “Entrepreneurship Award” at the Ellensburg district competition, giving them a bid to the Regional Championship in Portland, Ore.

Amazed at making it to the Regional Championship, they pressed forward and won an unprecedented two trophies for “Engineering Inspiration” and “Team Spirit.”

This gave them their first ever invitation to compete in the FIRST Robotics National and World Championships in St. Louis, Mo., April 22-26.

Eleven students, four parent chaperones and one OHHS mentor made the trip to St. Louis.

The students had a fantastic time finishing 40th of 100 teams in their division, while still finding time to visit the City Museum and the famous St. Louis Arch.

Big smiles all around for their most successful season ever since the team organized in 2009.

This is a great story and one the kids will long remember, but it gets better.

As the team shone at the regional championship, we watched in amazement at Veteran’s Arena in Portland as our team was listed on the big screen as invited to the National and World Championship in St. Louis.

The jubilation quickly dimmed by the realization of how much it would cost to send the team and robot to St. Louis in less than two weeks.

The Robotics Booster Team mobilized to seek donations and the generosity of Oak Harbor came forth to meet the need.

Members of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Soroptimist, numerous businesses and business professionals, school teachers, as well as family and friends opened their hearts and contributed.

Final expenses exceeded $10,000, but the generosity of Oak Harbor came forth and met a very large portion of these expenses in just eight days.

Some have called FIRST Robotics a “varsity sport for the mind.”

Just like varsity athletes, our students put in countless hours towards their competitions and learn many useful life skills along the way.

The forecast for Wildcat Robotics is bright, thanks to the support of so many people who give their time, talents and resources to help us encourage and inspire students who will be the future scientists, engineers, technical specialists and parents of tomorrow.

On behalf of all the students, teachers, mentors, parents, supporters and volunteers, thank you, thank you, thank you, Oak Harbor.

Jeff Margraf

Whidbey Wildcat

Robotics Booster Team

 

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