Few can blame Judy Barber, coach of the award-winning Girard High School Robotics team, if they catch her smiling ear to ear and beaming with pride these days.
That smile and that pride should be infectious within and beyond the Girard City School District. We join Barber and others in congratulating the RoboCats squad for its recent win in the regional robotics competition in Cincinnati and wish team members success as they advance to the prestigious world competition.
Team members’ skill and craftsmanship in robot construction and their zeal and passion for community service throughout the Mahoning Valley build an exemplary model for all high school students to replicate.
The Robocats’ latest claim to fame came last weekend at Xavier University, where the team excelled among 52 competitors — including Austintown Fitch and Warren G. Harding — as finalists in the Queen City Regional tournament. The Cats scored 8-2 in qualifying matches and 6-0 in elimination matches for the win, which earns them a berth in the world championships in St. Louis beginning April 24.
History of achievement
The RoboCats are no strangers to acclaim and honor. The team, first organized in 1999 under the direction of former Superintendent Joseph Jeswald, was the first in the Mahoning Valley and one of the first in the nation to form. Over those 14 years, the RoboCats have amassed an impressive inventory of awards and accomplishments. The RoboCats are an eight-time Entrepreneurship Award winner, five-time Spirit Award winner, four-time Engineering Inspiration Award winner, the 2004 Buckeye Regional Chairman’s Award winner, and the 2007 Buckeye Regional Champions, among many other awards. The team last competed in the world championships in 2009. Many alumni of RoboCats have won prestigious scholarships, such as the Leslie Cochran University Scholars full-ride scholarship at Youngstown State University.
Clearly, the RoboCats live up to their mission of making others aware of and excited about science, technology, engineering, math and of the importance of engineers to the future of our nation and world. In so doing, they powerfully expunge the mythical moniker of “nerd” that for too long has unfairly defamed students who aspire toward STEM. Nerds they most definitely are not.
They are instead stellar ambassadors of the rewards of hard work in the hard sciences. They are also active advocates of the value of community service. These Cats don’t isolate themselves within the confines of secluded robot-building laboratories. Membership in RoboCats requires a demonstrated commitment to community service. To that end, team members have volunteered at the OH WOW! Children’s museum, Relay for Life, Special Olympics and myriad other compassionate community causes. Heck, they’ve even put their specialized motor skills to practical use by offering lawn-mower winterization services to the public.
Such multi-facing with the community validates the team’s motto: “We are not just about building robots. We are about building people. We are about building leaders. We are about building tomorrow.”
As such, the Robocats deserve not only the community’s praise but also its support. The squad is raising funds for its trip to the world competition next month.