GUNTER — Gunter High School’s Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology robotics program will celebrate its 12 continuous year of student-led design and competition with a trip to the Texas BEST Regional Robotics Championship this weekend.

GUNTER — Gunter High School’s Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology robotics program will celebrate its 12 continuous year of student-led design and competition with a trip to the Texas BEST Regional Robotics Championship this weekend.


GHS Principal Kelly Teems said the school’s extracurricular robotics program is "great because it increases their knowledge in math, science and engineering, but the most important thing is the teamwork."


Robotics team member, junior Kalani Holloway, agrees: "It’s taught me a lot about communication. There are definitely conflicts, but we work together and work it out."


Holloway said she is confident in her team’s ability to perform well at the state competition. Holloway said she has enjoyed the diversity of the challenges in the program.


"I think it’s a lot of fun," Holloway said. "It’s something to do other than sit around at home."


One of the challenges faced by each year’s team is letting go of the robotic teammate that Holloway says they always become emotionally attached to. "We still have some of the old parts from the other robots," Holloway said. "It’s a kind of robot graveyard."


The BEST team’s faculty sponsor, algebra and physics teacher Mike Bessonet, said the team has about six weeks from the day they receive the robot’s parts in the mail until the first stage of competition. After the competition has run its course, the student team must disassemble the robot they worked together to build.


During those six weeks, Bessonet said students apply a variety of skills beyond the science, math and engineering know-how needed to assemble the robot. Students also compete by creating brochures, speeches and websites to promote and market their mechanical creation.


The physics teacher said he found the student’s progress over the last six weeks remarkable. "The kit (they receive) is just a pile of plywood, PVC pipe, motors and stuff like that," Bessonet said. "It gives the kids lots of experience using tools. Some of these kids have never used a screwdriver before, but people of this community have donated all sorts of tools for them to learn on."


Bessonet said the team has honed their construction, engineering and robot-driving skills for at least 9 hours a week after school during the competition season. Gunter HS Tigers have a long tradition of distinguishing themselves in the BEST competition, former faculty sponsor and Counselor Jacob Waggoner said.


Waggoner said the school was one of the first in the area to participate in the competition, which originated in North Texas but has since become a nationwide interscholastic competition. He said, in every year since 1993 except for one, the school’s team has placed in the top three in at least one category at the state competition.


"I know we have some future engineers here because when something breaks, these kids jump on it," Bessonett said. "It’s really encouraging to see them want to do it themselves."


Teems said the school plans to hold a pep rally for the robotics team at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Teems said the team will drive down to the Texas BEST competition inside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland in the early morning Friday to prepare for the competition’s kickoff at 9 a.m.