At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the students of Greater Fayetteville Adventist Academy (GFAA) in Fayetteville, N.C., and their coaches and mentors, were excited about the new robotics season, FIRST FORWARD. The robotics teams welcomed a new coach, Sean Ambrose; a rookie FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, Phoenix Stars; and the veteran FTC team, Eagle Tech. Both FTC teams had their eyes set for Apopka, Fla., to compete in the FTC Tournament at Forest Lake Academy.
The teams practiced every Friday and sometimes after school, in preparation for the competition. Not having adequate space, the students built and programmed their robots in the church’s fellowship hall. The cost to attend the tournament in Florida was $15,806.51. Stewart Robotics, LLC assisted the school with grant writing to offset the cost of the trip by requesting monetary donations from various donors.
In total, the teams received $16,196.00 to sponsor their trip. God be praised, they exceeded their goal. The school received monetary donations from Signarama of Fayetteville, the Southern Union Office of Education, Chick-fil-A of Celebration, Fla., AdventHealth University, TE Connectivity-African Heritage Group, and John Deere.
Eagle Tech and Phoenix Stars were the first FTC teams from the South Atlantic Conference and GFAA to attend an in-person FTC tournament. The students, parents, and chaperones assembled for prayer with Shakuntala Ramsarran, principal of GFAA; Roosevelt Marsden, pastor of Fayetteville Church; and Joan Daniels, GFAA home and school leader, before their departure. “It’s not a real FTC season until the wheels start coming off,” says Yaniel Suarez, leader of the builders of the Phoenix Stars. “It was an incredible experience where I was able to further my knowledge in the field of robotics,” said Suarez.
After sunset, all teams went into the FLA gymnasium for robot inspection and practice. Eagle Tech and Phoenix Stars got prepared for robot inspection. It was a long night. Both teams failed their robot inspection, but, not feeling undefeated, the team members stayed awake until 2 a.m. working on improving their robot. Because of their hard work, both teams passed their robot inspection prior to the start of the competition. God be praised! The robot competition was intense, and there was a total of 11 teams. For several rounds in the robot game, the Phoenix Stars were in last place, but they were determined not to give up. After regrouping and making much needed improvements, the students rose to fifth place in the robot game.
Their hard work paid off and both teams received 1st Place Awards in their respective categories. Phoenix Stars received the Motivate Award, and Eagle Tech received the Connect Award.
GFAA gives God the glory for the experience they had in Florida. They also want to give a special thank you to their sponsors for assisting the teams financially.
South Atlantic | October 2022