30 October 2005

The official end of a super year...

Lots has happened since the last posting …

Yesterday's participation at River Rage in Manchester marked the end of our official competition year. The team performed well, the new drivers and student drive coach were able to take the team all the way to the finals. Unfortunately, our alliance was not able to take the top award, but in retrospect, it was a better place than last year's performance at the event… we were left standing on the field, not chosen to compete in the finals at all.

The driver and co-pilot seem to be able to read each others' minds. Pretty good pairing, I think, they both have a strong ability to think and react quickly and appropriately. They will certainly be an asset if they decide to continue driving.

Here are some images from River Rage...and yet another set of images...

The other event that took place between the last posting and this one was something that our Town does every year to support the public library. Each year in September, they host a Cardboard Boat race that is held on Lake Naticook at Wasserman Park. At the end of the school year, two sophomores decided to enter the competition. They and several other team members worked over several weeks to design and build a boat. They even went so far as to practice paddling in a canoe. Their efforts paid off, as the team took easy victories in the Junior/Youth group division, the People's Choice award and the coveted Merrimack Cup. The cup is awarded to the overall winner of the final race comprised of the winners in each of the other categories.

FIRST taught them that prior planning prevents poor performance! An outstanding accomplishment that will be not forgotten, the massive trophies will be on display in the main lobby of MHS.

Here are some images from the Cardboard Boat Race

This coming year will most certainly be a challenge for us, as we have begun operations at our new home. All our gear, materials, tools, machinery and computing resources have been relocated from our sponsor's facility to the high school. While I am excited about the future and the potential for the team's growth, I am concerned about the ability of the school to live up to the promises that were made when this venture began. For one thing, all the faculty members who claimed to want to help have backed away, leaving only one, our advisor, to fend for herself and the team. We are finding out that the school, aside from a very small number of the faculty, know what the FIRST program entails. The vast majority were surprised to hear that we work together all year 'round. They thought that the effort was only during the 6 week build season. There are concerns regarding access to the facility and the use of the machinery that was donated by our sponsor, and there are concerns around who will be allowed to operate the machines to build parts and who is liable if an injury is sustained. What about weekend access, especially on Sundays? Generally, there are people in the school almost every night and Saturday, but Sundays are a different story.

It is disturbing to me because we have been asking these questions since the Spring, and no one can supply answers.