BELDING — The Belding robotics team continues to climb to new heights each and every year, and now the team will ascend to its highest peak yet.
At Monday evening’s Belding Area Schools Board of Education meeting, board members voted unanimously to allow the five members of the team who qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship to travel to Anaheim, Calif. in April.
Superintendent Sara Shriver said she was eager to see the students participate because the team was unable to participate last year after qualifying due to a lack of funding.
“This is really exciting,” Shriver said. “We’ve seen the excitement of the kids and how well they do here at Belding. They’ve won a lot of competitions and last year they couldn’t go to the world tournament because of funding. This year, we’re going to ensure that they go.”
Robotics team coach Tom Daller said the team, which is sponsored and financed by Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures in Belding, has been able to raise enough funds through two home tournaments held at Belding High School, as well as through several anonymous donations from area businesses and residents, totaling near $4,000.
“Our facilities in Belding, they’ve made for one of the best venues in the state,” he said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we are starting to make money at our home tournaments.”
Daller said the competition at the tournament will be elite, but that it won’t phase his students in the least.
“There’s 9,600 teams in the world, and the top 400 will be competing in California,” he said. “The kids have already been looking at teams from Japan and Europe, and are already redesigning their robot. We might not win it out of 400 teams, but we’ll give it a shot.”
The five students participating will be team members Tyler Gasper, Jessie Boyd, John Parcher, Haley Davis and Taylor Sluiter.
Board President Tom Humphreys said he was very thankful to Daller for finding a way for the students to make the journey to California
“Mr. Daller, thank you very much for taking this on. It sounds like an absolutely incredible opportunity for our kids, to not only be able to do this locally and on the state level, but to now have this experience to compete nationally,” he said.
Board Vice President Timothy Flynn said he was also very grateful of Daller for spearheading the effort to raise enough funds to travel to the world competition.
“Congratulations to our students, I can’t be more proud in the way that they’ve taken these technologies and applied themselves to them,” he said.
The competition will be April 23 through April 26 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
In other matters …
The board voted unanimously to approve a change to the Orchard Hills Building boiler project. The change includes an upgrade on the boiler model selected and eliminates replacing the pumps. The change will be a net decrease of $289, bringing the project total cost to $138,631.90.
The board voted unanimously to withdraw a Request for Declaratory Ruling with respect to the application of 2012 Public Act 53. At the Feb. 17 Board of Education meeting, the board directed and authorized its attorneys to file the ruling. Subsequent to that action, the Belding Education Association withdrew its demand for arbitration. As a result, Shriver stated that there is no remaining controversy with respect to application of 2012 Public Act 53 that would necessitate or support continuation of the Request for Declaratory Ruling.