SOUTH FORSYTH — South Forsyth High School swept the competition during the recent Technology Student Association’s State Leadership Conference.
The school returned home from the event with more than 30 top-10 finishes, ranking No. 3 in the state for overall performance.
“We were really pleased,” said technology teacher Nick Crowder. “We have come so far so fast. To be in the top three after only five years in competing is a real accomplishment.”
More than 15 students from the school have advanced to the national conference this summer in Washington, D.C., including Akhila Moturu, who earned three first-place finishes in career preparation, desktop publishing and future technology teacher events.
“Akhila placed third in the nation for future technology teacher last year,” Crowder said.
While South fared the best, all of Forsyth’s schools participated in the event, including Forsyth Central and Lambert high schools, which both had students qualify for the national competitions.
For North Forsyth, the event was a learning experience. Jodie Marshall said it was a chance to attend for the first time, compete in a robotics challenge and see what’s expected.
“We spent our time learning how the different competitions operate ... we were basically just feeling the water this year because we want to be more active next year,” she said.
“One thing that really struck their eyes was the animatronics. They were very interested in that because of the robotics side of it, and they’re already making plans and coming up with ideas for how they can do the project next year.”
The conference features more than 70 different competitions and events, including biotechnology, engineering, music and video production, transportation modeling and web and video game design.
Forsyth Central took 15 students to the event, returning with a third-place award in the technology bowl and a first-place trophy for the electric vehicle rally.
STEM Academy teacher David Johnson said the vehicle team “lapped the entire field to win the race very decisively.”
The electric vehicle rally team included students: Emily Brickell, Zach Brumbalow, Ryan Cox, Sean Cummings, Seth Fowler, Stephanie Gangwish, Simon Langen, JD McCarthy, Shaun McCarthy, Trevor Perdue, Zach Robertson, Amber Shell, Brad Shuford, Evan Welch and Amy Zhai.
“We can be very proud of our youth, certainly tomorrow’s leaders,” he said.
Lambert also posted a strong showing, with 12 of the 23 students who competed placing in the top 15, said engineering teacher Travis Hodges.
“This was our largest group to attend and we competed in roughly half of the competitions at the conference,” he said. “Both of our video projects were excellent, not many schools finished in the top five in both categories of video.”
A team comprised of Richard Choe, Eden Fletcher, Ali Khosravi, Vishwa Mudigonda and Yassin Watson took third place for on-demand video and fifth place for digital video production, earning a slot in the national competition.
Hodges said the conference allows for friendly competition, but also “showcases the talents of our students and allows business and industry leaders to see the future employees and business owners of tomorrow.”
He also praised the “very impressive showing” of freshman Joel Joseprabu, who finished second in the computer-aided 3D design competition.
For West Forsyth, the competition was a growing experience. Last year, just a few students attended, said coach Scott Walker. This year, that number grew to more than 15, eight of whom are freshmen. All placed in the top 10 for their categories.
“Our goal is to have 30 next year,” he said. “I am very proud. They represented themselves, their families, the school and myself with a great deal of class and it was a joy to have them over there.”
Walker said to be taken seriously for industry and state certifications, the school needs an active and viable TSA chapter.
“We started that this year and we’re going to continue to grow next year,” he said. “One young lady, freshman Julia Jenkins took fifth place in extraneous speech and that was quite an accomplishment.”
To qualify for nationals, individuals had to finish in the top three for their category.
At South, second-place finishers included: Andrew Mesa, computer-aided design 2D architecture; Eric Strozensky and Amanda Middleton, computer numerical control; Gabriel Arkanum and Walker Wood, open source software development; and Tiffany Chau, promotional graphics.
Chau, Strozensky and Arkanum also finished second as a team with Ryan Burke in the SciVis category.
Third-place finishers included: Alexandre Loheac, electrical applications; Amanda Middleton, future technology teacher; Tripp Hemker, Brian John, Philip Laplante, Keenan Nicholson, Andrew Mes, Moturu and Eric Strozen, chapter team; and Moturu, Keenan Nicholson and Norris Nicholson, webmaster.
“Five thousand kids are competing at the nationals, so we’re really excited to go. Last year we had some kids place really high,” Crowder said. “I challenge them to think forward to the award ceremony.”