Picayune Board of Trustees told about robotics team’s successes

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2018

The successes of the Pearl River County Robotics Team were presented to the Picayune School District Board of Trustees during Tuesday’s meeting.

Karen Balch, Team CHAOS mentor, said that the team consisted of 32 students this year, in addition to four graduates who were prior members who returned to act as mentors.

Also, six professionals working in the fields of engineering or for large corporations mentored the students.

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Of the four former students who returned as mentors, one is pursuing a career in engineering, while the rest are attending college.

During this past season, the team competed in two regional events, one in Orlando, Fla. and a second in New Orleans. During the Bayou Regional held in New Orleans, the team earned a perfect winning record, allowing the team to qualify to compete at the world competition.

Members of the team have also shared their knowledge and experience with the community through the most recent Camp CHAOS, where the students took the lead in teaching camp attendees.

Balch said that the team couldn’t have achieved the things the students did without the huge community support in the form of donations of money and supplies. 

“This is definitely a team that is locally funded,” Balch said.

In other business, Picayune Memorial High School Assistant Principal Pat Smith presented the Board with ACT scores from this year’s students.

Results from the tests show that 47 students scored between a 25 and 29 on the test, which has a maximum score of 36.

Twenty-one students scored a 29 or higher, of which eight scored a 30, three scored a 32 and two scored a 33.

In addition to the scholarships students receive for scoring well on the ACT, the District also receives points toward the year-end assessment conducted by the state department of education.

Smith said the school’s graduation rate increased by 9.6 points, which also contributes to the District’s assessment score.

During discussion of the handbook, Board member Josh Robertson asked how the high school administration handles fights between students when one of the students was defending himself or herself from bullying.

Picayune Memorial High School Principal Kent Kirtland said while students do have a right to defend themselves from bullying, they do ask that any acts of bullying are reported to the principal or another administrator. That way the staff can address the complaint before it becomes physical.

If a complaint has been made and there is sufficient evidence to show the student was acting in self-defense, then the punishment for the defender is typically less than for the student who started the fight. As such, most fights are disciplined on a case-by-case basis.

As an addendum, Kirtland said that the current policy has reduced the number of fights at the high school. Between boys, Kirtland said there were four fights this year. Girls, however, were involved in a few more fights.