Laingsburg robotics team honors top students

Laingsburg High’s Red Thunder Robotics award winners include, from left, Paul Garrett, mentor and teacher; Hailey Mohney, Chairman’s Award; Leo Doyle, Most Improved Student; Chris Walker, Rookie All-Star; Grace Honkanen, Spirit Award; Tyler Sieben, Engineering Award; Tyler Brunette, Commitment Award; Brady Hawks, Jack-of-All-Trades Award; Liam Lange, Spirit Award; Chris Freels, Commitment Award; and Claire Sanderling, Rookie Inspiration (freshman).

LAINGSBURG — Laingsburg High School’s Red Thunder Robotics competitive team hosted its annual awards night recently to celebrate its recent accomplishments and recognize several outstanding team members.

Taking home awards were:

n Hailey Mohney, Senior and Team Captain: Chairman’s Award

n Leo Doyle, Sophomore: Most Improved Student

n Chris Walker, Senior: Rookie All-Star

n Grace Honkanen, Senior: Spirit Award

n Tyler Sieben, Senior: Engineering Award

n Tyler Brunette, Junior: Commitment Award

n Brady Hawks, Junior: Jack-of-All-Trades

n Liam Lange, Sophomore: Spirit Award

n Chris Freels, Junior: Commitment Award

n Claire Sanderlin, Freshman: Rookie Inspiration

In only its second year, Red Thunder finished eighth out of 40 teams at its For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) regional competition in April, received the Excellence in Engineering Award above all the other teams at that competition, and earned the opportunity to be an alliance captain when it got to the quarter-final round.

Last year they received the Rookie All-Star Award from their peer FIRST teams.

“I’m so incredibly proud of these kids. They’ve worked so hard for months to learn real-world skills in a variety of technical and non-technical areas so we could be this successful in only our second year in the FIRST program,” said Paul Garrett, Red Thunder robotics mentor and LHS physics and robotics teacher.

FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology.

Under strict rules, limited resources and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-sized robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.

This year the team was supported with in-kind and financial donations from AIS, SLH Metals, Tri-Mer Corp., Westaff, Cook Family Foundation, Laingsburg Lions Club, Laingsburg Educational Advancement Foundation, private donors and the former Laingsburg Youth Tackle Football Program (donated trailer and unused funds).

The team is starting its fundraising again. Its budget for the 2019-20 season is approximately $43,000, assuming it makes it to state and world competitions. The world competition will be in Detroit at Cobo Hall.

To learn more about Red Thunder robotics, contact Garrett at (947) 517-3001 or

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