By: Marlana Ward
The dream of a retired engineer to see the youth of Johnson County embrace robotics has come to fruition with the founding of the Johnson County Middle School (JCMS) Robotics Team. This vision of the late Larry Farrell was realized thanks to the dedication of his wife, Mary Sue Farrell and the Johnson County Middle School Science Department consisting of Susan Quave, Lane Sentell, and Terri Henson.
In 2013, Mr. Farrell approached Quave about participating in a robotics competition hosted by Vex Robotics, Inc. Mr. and Mrs. Farrell were both experienced with the Vex Robotics Competition through volunteering and assisting with past competitions. The couple encouraged Quave to apply for a grant to get JCMS involved with the competition. Though Quaves first grant request was denied and Farrell passed away after a battle with cancer, in 2015 the robotics dream for Johnson County continued.
Farrell contacted Quave to assess her interest in again pursuing a grant to aid in the formation of a robotics program. After she expressed her willingness to again write a grant request for inclusion in the competition, Mary Sue Farrell penned a recommendation to accompany Quaves request. This time, a grant was given to purchase two VEX EDR competition robotics kits. With this acquisition, the JCMS Robotics Team (which also has the distinction of being the first VEX Robotics team in Northeast Tennessee) was formed.
Students that were interested in working with the robotics program applied for entry to the team. The students were asked to write an essay explaining why they sought inclusion with the team and what interests or skills they had that would make them an asset to the team. Their interests included computer software, video gaming, robotic kit building, and just overall thinking that robots were cool and they wanted to know more, Quave shared about her enthusiastic, young team. The students chosen were Tyler Burleson, Sam Dempsey, Mitchell Hodge, Alex Jennings, Jackson Mays, Dalton Sluder, Jonathan Wilcox, Hunter Graybeal, Lauren Paterson, and Dillon Trivette.
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