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First-generation robotics students graduate

JCHS Robotics team members celebrate after qualifying for the 2019 Vex Robotics world competition at the Tennessee State Championship.  Senior members and original members of the program said goodbye this May. Students qualified for the 2020 world competition but Vex Robotics canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo.

By Meg Dickens

The first generation of Johnson County’s robotics program took their final step in secondary school education when they received their diplomas during the Saturday, May 24 graduation ceremony at Chamber Park. Several members graduated this year, including original program members Jackson Mays and Dalton Sluder. 

The Johnson County robotics programs began in 2015. In the past five years, one or more teams qualified three times to represent Johnson County in Vex Robotics’

world competition. Students make use of technology for learning purposes, using tools such as YouTube, and work together to improve and grow.

“The robotics teams dedicate literally, hundreds of hours just in the time that we meet after school each week. Their determination and hard work is a credit to the support of parents and volunteers that have instilled strong work ethics in them, and as a result, these students continue to represent Johnson County well at each competition they attend,” JCHS team sponsor and teacher, Kasi Dishman, said in a previous interview.

Robotics is more than a hobby for these students. They learn valuable skills, such as problem-solving, communication, and team-building, that are useful later in life. This type of experience is a useful precursor for engineering and other related careers. Robotics looks good on college applications and can lead to scholarships through Vex Robotics.

Johnson County’s robotics program has been noticed. State officials have kept an eye on the students’ progress and helped the program gain funding through grants. On September 3, 2019, state officials Timothy Hill and Jon Lundberg met Johnson County School officials to deliver a $25,000 grant check from the state. 

“People know that it’s going on. People are paying attention,” said Representative Hill. “ Senator Lundberg and I want to make sure this program continues. I will never stop fighting for our students, teachers, and schools. I am proud to support our world-class robotics programs here in Johnson County.”

Congratulations to the JCHS Robotics seniors. Continue the good work, and you will go far.