Monday, April 25, 2005


Monday April 25, 2005

Saturday morning we felt we had a real good chance for the Chairman’s Award. Fredi and I discussed whether we should prepare the kids for not winning or let their enthusiasm and expectations keep soaring. We were afraid that if we did not win, they would be really disappointed. We kicked the ideas around and we knew we should tell them not to get their hopes up too high, but how often are we in contention for a national championship?

During the afternoon competitions, Josh Davis and Dan Green took advantage of their media passes and went to the media room. They also met with Dean Kamen and the top administrators of FIRST. We wondered if they were told the award winners, but we did not ask them because we assumed they wouldn’t tell us and we didn’t want to put them in an uncomfortable position. They never rejoined us as “team members” after their meeting so we assumed they were tipped off.

Between championship matches, lesser awards were awarded: Autodesk Animator award, Sportsmanship award, etc. During that time, Josh, Dan and the camera crew went up to the press room. That’s when we knew they HAD to know AND that we were not going to receive any awards until possibly at the end. We also noticed they were smiling a lot! The whole team was very pumped up.

After the last of the championship matches were over, it was time for the last three awards: The Rookie All Star, the Engineering Inspiration Award, and the Chairman’s Award. The camera crew was all over us, Josh and Dan were smiling, and we were ready.

The All Star Rookie Award went to a first year team, of course. When they started reading the presentation for the second highest award, we didn’t realize it was going to be presented to us until half way through the announcer’s script. I think we were all crushed and yet the kids kept up the smiles and cheered, even though they (and the adults) were very disappointed. And on top of all of that, the ABC camera crew is recording our reactions. We really did not prepare the kids on how to celebrate second place, yet they were truly phenomenal. Not one complaint, not one bad attitude. When the Chairman’s award was announced, our kids were one of the loudest teams in the 20,000 audience. I’m so proud of them.

The Atlanta weather turned bitter cold and the wind was blowing hard. The kids were emotionally drained, yet they bundled up and went to the large outdoor party held for all the teams at the Olympic Park. Everyone was asleep by 11:00 pm (I think). They had been running with little sleep and under high pressure for the last four days and their personal batteries were drained.

Sunday, everyone was awake by 10 or so and we had donuts, bagels, and some left over fruit for breakfast. The main event for the day was a trip to Six Flags and dinner at the Hard Rock Café.

With 1000 FIRST robotics teams competing, being awarded second place is quite an honor and no other Arizona school has gone this far. Even though we though we had done our best this year, the kids are already talking about what more they can do in the next 12 months: working in more junior high schools, reaching out to students who don’t see that they can excel and showing by example that math, science, engineering and hard work is very satisfying and a lot of fun. The students from Carl Hayden didn’t have to be prepared for second place; I think much of our culture has prepared them very well to be satisfied with second place. The Falcon Robotics team has learned how to get to first place. It’s in their character. In some ways it might be fortunate that they did not win first place because there is a lot more in them and there is a lot more in them.

Monday we visited the Arthur M. Blank Family Office building for lunch. We met a few old friends and made some new ones.

The flight back to Phoenix was uneventful and we were met by family and friends and our principal, Steve Ybarra.

Tuesday its back to school and time to get really serious about the ROV competition in June. MIT expects a worthy opponent!

Teachers Allan Cameron, Fredi Lajvardi, Ruth Reynoso and Debbie Cameron and Eunice DeRose are so in awe of our champion team members: Cristian Arcega, Michael Brown, Cindy Castaneda, Daniel Federle, Luis Gutierrez, Marco Gutierrez, Viridiana Gutierrez, Richard Hartlaub, Marie Keller, Gerica Rayas, Annalisa Regalado, Lorenzo Santillan and Pablo Santillan. And thank your Karen Suhm and Jerry Suhm for flying to Atlanta to help us out. You are the greatest mentors ever!!


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