AHS ready to host FIRST robotics district competition

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Left to right, AHS students Ben Gerhent, Michael Buchler, Brett Bonitas, and Lara King work on their robot Wednesday at Alpena High School.

ALPENA — In two and a half months, Alpena High School is going to be packed with 40 teams for the FIRST Robotics district tournament. Event Coordinator John Diamond has been working hard preparing both the school and the city for the tournament.

“It’s going very well,” Diamond said. “We’re receiving a whole lot of community support and we’re seeing a lot of volunteers, not only from the community, but from other parts of the state that are going to be coming here to help us out and that’s coming along very well.”

Diamond has been working with Jackie Krawczak of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce and Mary Beth Stutzman of the Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau for all the people who will be coming to Alpena.

“They’ve been really supportive of us,” Diamond said. “They’ve made arrangements for us to reserve part of the dormitories out at the Combat Readiness Training Center so that will allow us an adequate number of people there.”

The chamber also is helping taking care of the registration for those who will be staying at the CRTC.

“They have been great in helping us out,” Diamond said.

Diamond has partnered with AHS Principal Thomas Berriman, Superintendent John VanWagoner, and Transportation Director Ken McInerney on getting the high school ready for the tournament.

“They’ve been extremely supportive because there are some accommodations that we need to have and there’s some volunteers and people who are also stepping up,” Diamond said.

Diamond said FIRST Robotics has a system and a methodology to make the tournaments happen. He said he is on three conference calls a week with people all over the state and the country who are hosting FIRST Robotics events.

“They send you piles of support materials that are templates to help us run the event,” he said.

The students are excited Alpena gets to host the district tournament in April.

“It’s been in the works for a long time,” senior Nolan Jones said. “I think a lot of us are all really glad that all our hard work paid off.”

Jones said the offseason tournament in November helped get the team ready for hosting the tournament.

“I’m ready to show all the other teams what Alpena has to offer,” senior Conner McDonald said.

Both Jones and McDonald are confident about how the season will go.

“We have a solid computer-aided design so we’re probably going to start building sometime next week,” McDonald said. “We’re right on schedule.”

Jones said Alpena has had a solid team for the past three to four years.

“I think we’re pretty set for this upcoming season,” Jones said. “Our season goal is to at least win states, which hopefully should come easy enough.”

McDonald said the teams are bringing robotics to the next level this season.

“Everyone better make sure they show up to the tournament in April,” Jones said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.