NEW CASTLE – “Craig High School may be small but we are mighty!” exclaimed Craig County High School Guidance Counselor Marcia Barlow, following the high school robotics team’s showing at a regional robotics competition last month.
Six CCHS students are enrolled in Virginia Western Community College programs STEM-H: Pre-Health Curriculum, IT: Desktop Support Technician, and the Regional Academy for Advanced Technology.
In December, those students entered Virginia Western’s regional robotics competition. Second-year student Joshua Cranmer explained that each team was required to build a robot using a Parallax robot kit to function and compete by the college’s guidelines. Meanwhile, first-year student Cody Robertson created a language program designed to maneuver the team’s robot. He explained that the number of clicks tells the robot how long to stay in a certain position.
The students described the competition they were in as a “fishing derby.” In the middle of the 8-foot square board was an X, and in each corner were “aquariums.” Contestants had to first locate the fish, then pick up the fish on the board and drop it into the aquarium. Contestants also had to program the robot to recognize the color of the fish in order to drop it into the corresponding colored aquarium, located in the corners. The robot they designed was called “Sting Ray,” and it contained an arm called “The Claw.”
Maggie Wilcher, first-year student, was on the team with Robertson and explained that when they were doing their trial run, “our robot wouldn’t work. It was too slippery.” They even tried super gluing napkins to the wheels, but the boards were new and the wheels would not grab its surface. Once they changed boards, the robot worked fine.
In fact, Craig County students Robertson and Wilcher took 1st-place out of 53 teams competing region wide, including middle and high schools and local college students. Jacob King added that the high school competitors had to make poster boards, and the college competitors created a Powerpoint presentation.
CCHS senior and first-year student at VWCC Charles Old is enrolled in IT Desktop, where he puts together small computers and learns various programs and functions.
“VW gives me the chance to get college credits while I am in high school in an area I am interested in pursuing, while enjoying the different programs like computer physical repair, upgrades and networking,” he said. “We also receive an accredited certification exam, which will look good on my resume.”
Katie Dooley is enrolled in the STEM-H program, which will help her to be better prepared for entry into one of the health profession programs. This program is designed for students who have demonstrated strong science and math skills in the high school program.
“I am in a pre-healthcare field program that gives you most of your general prerequisites for any medical profession,” she explained. “I’m not exactly sure what I plan to go into, but I would like to apply to VWCC’s surgical technology program next year to be a medical assistant.”
Dooley said she is interested in biomedical engineering or may pursue training to be a physician’s assistant. She called the opportunity to attend VWCC as a high school student “amazing,” and said she loves her classes. She explained that because the school’s programs are specialized for her desired career field that it challenges her further than the typical high school curriculum.
“I also really like how helpful and pleasant my instructors are,” Dooley added. “Being in this program is definitely a wonderful experience, whether it is doing a dissection, learning all the bones, or writing a research paper. I strongly recommend the program to any other CCHS students who have a dedication to the medical field.”
King, who said he wants to be a weapons engineer, and Joshua Cranmer are in their second year in the Mechatronics Program, which is designed to challenge the students with hands-on instruction in mechanical, electrical and computer systems in preparation for the Siemens Mechatronics System certification. Both said they prefer the hands-on teaching.
“It’s not as much theory,” they agreed.
King and Cranmer will graduate from VWCC in mid-May in their career studies before high school graduation this year. With this certification, they will be qualified to apply for technician jobs in manufacturing facilities. Also, with only one additional year at VWCC, they will have their associate’s degree in mechatronics.
These programs offered at VWCC are offered to 11th and 12th grade students.
“These students are up at dawn to leave the county by 6:30 a.m. and to be at VW by 8 a.m.,” explained Barlow. “They return to the high school by 12:30 p.m. and attend three classes on our campus. They do this Monday-Friday and also manage extra-curricular activities, part time jobs, etcetera. I feel that this opportunity will have a major impact on them in a mature way. They are definitely a step ahead.”
Barlow encouraged any students interested in these programs to contact her at CCHS.
Barlow praised the robotics team for its win, and said that though CCHS may not have the highest enrollment, its students and faculty have been proving and being rewarded for their skills and knowledge over the past year in various contests such as this one.
“We want to keep our community abreast of how hard the administration and faculty is working to make sure CC students receive excellent teaching and hands-on training,” added Superintendent Kelly Wilmore. “Our students taking 1st-place helps us to know that we are providing just that for them.”
– By Pam Dudding-Burch