GOOD NEWS FROM SCHOOLS: North Gwinnett Robotics Team makes it to semifinals

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

The North Gwinnett Robotics team, the North STARS, recently returned from the FIRST Robotics World Championships after winning the Peachtree Regional competition in March. From April 27 to April 30, 352 qualifying teams out of a total of 2,075 worldwide teams coming from as far as Australia gathered in St. Louis for the chance to be named world champion.

At the world championship, the teams were randomly placed into four divisions. After completing the 10 qualifying rounds, the North STARS were ranked No. 1 in their division of 88 teams, which included six former world champions and seven previously undefeated teams. They advanced to the semifinal round in their division playoffs, where they were defeated after experiencing some technical problems with their robot.

North Gwinnett students Austin Shenk and Matthew Brown were the drivers of the robot, while Prerak Joshi was the human player and Emily Ritter, Ashay Sheth and Erica Manning served as the pit crew. They were coached by Martin Wilson of Meggitt Training Systems and mentored by North Gwinnett graduates Christopher Wilson and Michael Spencer.

Each year FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics designs a new challenge for the teams in which the robots compete against each other to attain specified goals. After the challenge is announced, the teams then have six weeks to design and build a robot and to develop the strategies they will use to achieve the goals of the challenge. Through robotics, the team gets to experience real-world principles of programming, design, engineering, manufacturing, prototyping, leadership, and teamwork.

The North STARS are sponsored by Meggitt Training Systems US, Global Agenda, LaserCraft Technologies, Inc., Swift Atlanta, North Gwinnett High School and Gwinnett County Public Schools. They have also received support from Cables and Kits, SS Airsoft, Suwanee Orthodontics, Riverside Pizza, Lazer City, Daystar Computer and Handyworkx, Inc.

Yale University honors Duluth High teacher

Yale University has noticed the more than a decade of service that a Gwinnett County Public Schools fine arts teacher has dedicated to Duluth High students.

The Ivy League university recently presented Peter Lemonds, a Duluth High music teacher, with the Yale Distinguished Music Educator award. He is one of close to 50 educators from across the country honored this school year, selected by a panel of music professionals.

As a Yale honoree, Lemonds will have the opportunity to attend the 2011 Symposium on Music in Schools in New Haven, Conn. As part of the event, he will participate in a workshop conducted by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, titled "The Value of Music Education." He also will attend a concert by Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.

A veteran educator for close to three decades, Lemonds joined Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1999 teaching at both Duluth Middle and North Gwinnett High. He became part of the Duluth High faculty in 2000 where he has been a Wildcat for 11 years.

Lemonds holds a doctoral degree in musical arts from The University of Missouri-Kansas City, Conservatory of Music; a master's degree in music from Louisiana State University and a bachelor's degree in psychology and music from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.