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Alcona kids headed to state contest

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Alcona Middle School students Jacob Renchenski, Garrett Somers, and Ricky Schott practice driving their robot on Tuesday. Those students, along with classmates Bailey Goddard and Jacob June, will travel to Battle Creek this weekend to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics middle school state championships.

LINCOLN — The Alcona Middle School robotics team will make history this weekend as the first team from the school to make the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics middle school state championships.

The team won a qualification match on Nov. 23 in Pellston to qualify for the state match at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. They will travel Thursday for the competition on Friday and Saturday.

The team will compete against 72 other teams from around the state.

“It’s pretty exciting,” seventh-grader Garrett Somers said. “We’re the first team from Alcona to ever go to the state round.”

Alcona teacher and robotics coach Rachel Somers hopes the Alcona Community Schools robotics program can continue growing because of the middle school robotics program’s success.

“There’s still a little bit of stigma, as far as what robotics is and who can do it, and I want them to know that pretty much anyone can find an interest and that it’s as exciting as their sporting events that they’re involved in,” she said. “It shows them, too, that they can come from a small place and still compete and do well and represent their school in some way that’s going to be positive for them and for the school, so it’s exciting.”

Eighth-grader Jacob Renchenski was added to the team after the qualification match so the team can have a second driver at the state competition. He’s excited about joining the team and going this weekend.

“It’s nice to know that we’ll be going against other teams that know how things work,” Renchenski said. “I think it’s going to be fun. We hope we can do really good and represent Alcona for robotics, because we’ve only done this for two years. This is our second year, so we want to make robotics a thing.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

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