Worlds-Qualifying VCHS Robotics Club Raising Funds Through DECA Partnership

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Joey Marini
To run a globally successful program with all the resources in the world may seem easy, but taking into consideration all the behind the scenes work involved, it would still be very difficult. To run a globally successful program with all the resources in the United States would be even more challenging. A step further, with funding from North Dakota, running a globally successful program would be highly improbable, but doable under the right circumstances. It seems that as long as the program has some sort of financial backing, a sliver of hope and opportunity exists. So how is it that the VCHS Robotics club receives next to no financial support outside of their own efforts but still manages to win States and qualify for World Tournaments? That's like a self-funded lemonade stand on the corner of Central and Main becoming a direct competitor of Minute Maid.
One would have to suppose the product and the team are extraordinarily well versed in their craft, negating the overwhelming odds stacked against them. By requesting donations, grants, and running fundraisers, the Valley City High School Robotics club has managed to not only exist in a world of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, but has flourished.
Valley City's Robotics's club takes part in a league called VEX Robotics. With numerous opportunities to compete, Valley City opted for five tournaments from the months of January to February. Tournaments are run with a single game, chosen at the previous years World's competition. This years game, called “Turning Point,” was a timed competition against other robots, where the objective is to score as many points as one can. With potential points deriving from flipping caps to one's teams color for 1 point, to lifting and placing caps on posts for 2 points, to throwing balls at flags to change colors (scoring 1 point for low flags and 2 for the second and third flag), to climbing a platform for 3 points in the final few seconds (scoring an extra 6 on the center platform), the two minutes of play are just as intense as a sporting event. The first fifteen autonomous seconds prove the operators critical thinking and strategy while the last minute and forty five seconds require hand eye coordination, confidence, and understanding of the mechanisms being operated.
Students that will be attending the World Tournament are Blake Triebold, Ezra Hanse, and Derek Bear. The three sophomore boys, alongside Coach Annette Beattie, look to take advantage of their newfound upgrade in the V5 Vex system. The system, so high in demand, was actually sold to Valley City as a token of appreciation after they had won using the previous VEX model. Coach Beattie states that the new system is much faster, with better electrical circuits and stronger motors. This equipment cost the club $868 dollars.
Valley City has solidified themselves as nationally elite competitor but still looks for assistance in their journey towards Worlds. They have received a majority of their funding from John Deere Seeding Group in Valley City under Project Lead the Way and through state grants. That money has gone to the equipment, time, and resources needed to craft, practice with, and perfect their designs and tangible assets. Other expenses such as travel, meals, lodging, entrance fees, and miscellaneous accommodations are still taken on by the clubs budget. Being that the club is flying to Kentucky and staying in a hotel for this upcoming trip, any and all donations will be acknowledged and appreciated.
The club also funds by selling custom banners, canvases, and yard games. Coach Beattie works with Valley City's DECA program, selling these products at Valley City High School DECA is a “group of high school leaders who share interests in marketing, finance, management, and hospitality.” Sheila Larson oversees that club and can be reached at Annette Beattie can be reached for design inquires at They plan to use money accumulated here to fund trips and to buy new materials for both programs.
In only their second year of competition, the team has already won a plethora of awards. In 2017 – 2018 they were awarded the Excellence Award and the title of Tournament Champions. The 2018 – 2019 year was even better for Valley. Out of the four awards possible, the team won three. So far this season yielded the Excellence Award, the title of Tournament Champions, and the title of Robot Skills Champions.
Coach Beattie commended the boys and their dedication with, “They work so hard. They come in any free time they have, during and after the school day, to work with each other. They are excellent to have around and excellent to work with!”
She went on to express the leadership roles these young men have taken on, mentoring and assisting the underclassmen who look to get involved with the club and programs like this. The Lego League club is currently transitioning into VEX IQ, giving Junior High students more opportunities to get engaged and compete in tournaments.
Not to be content with their accomplishments thus far, Triebold, Hanse, and Bear will be continuing their work up until April 24th, the day of competition. With greatness already in front of them, they tinker with, tear apart, and rebuild their robot with the understanding that one can only build if the walls are torn down. Valley City High School's Robotics club will look to tear down previously winning models, any negative stigmas revolving around STEAM, and the competition for years to come.