It’s time to rebuild

Robotics team competes at their very first in-person tournament since the pandemic

BVH+Robotics+team+competes+at+their+very+first+in-person+SUHSD+VEX+Robotics+League+tournament+at+Hilltop+High+on+Oct.+9.+

Photo provided by Valeria Valencia

BVH Robotics team competes at their very first in-person SUHSD VEX Robotics League tournament at Hilltop High on Oct. 9.

Laurinne Eugenio, Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 9, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) Robotics team competed at their very first in-person tournament, sponsored by Sweetwater Union High School District’s VEX Robotics League at Hilltop High (HTH) since the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the Robotics team participated in online competitions; however, this tournament marks the first of many competitions the team aims to attend. Robotics team Vice President, Team B Captain and senior Marcello Garbo explains that Robotics’ team members started preparing for the tournament around mid-August and continued their work during Fall Break and after-school workshops.  

“Over break, we [Robotics team] would get together to brainstorm, [build, test and program] ideas to see what worked and what didn’t. [We tested] to see if the autonomous driver control and all different elements would [would] work,” Garbo said. “We have build days almost every day after school. [I] make sure that everyone has the ability to get hands-on experience with the robot or with programming.”

Every year, the VEX competition features a certain theme that the Robotics teams across the district base their projects on. This year, Garbo mentions that the competition theme is centered around rings and goals.

“We had pentagon[-shaped] bases and purple rings that were [about] four and a half inches long.  [Team members] had to place these rings into the bases and then take the bases back to [their] zone. So if you put bases or rings into that zone, you would score points,” Robotics Team President, Team A Captain and senior Diego Nunes said.

Nunes mentions that the team is at its peak in terms of participants,  compared to previous years, with several first-year team members joining the club. First-year team members like Team B member and junior Valeria Valencia, as well as Team C member and freshman Natalie Lewis, felt excited competing at their very first in-person tournament for the season. Lewis exclaims, “Wow!” when describing her feelings about participating in the tournament at HTH. 

Participating was exciting, especially since it was my first time. The experience was great since my team is so supportive of each other and [everyone] helps keep the energy up.”

— Team B member and junior Valeria Valencia

“Participating was exciting, especially since it was my first time. The experience was great since my team is so supportive of each other and [everyone] helps keep the energy up,” Valencia said. 

During the competition, BVH’s Robotics team received notable successes, with two of the three teams placing top 10 in the overall competition, according to Nunes. 

“Before, our teams have made it to about 16th place, and we used to have competition amongst ourselves to see if we could get to 10th place. [It] was more of a joke than anything because we didn’t believe we could do it,” Nunes said. “This year, we had two teams place in the top 10 ranks, which was absolutely amazing because we’ve never even dreamed that before.”

A challenge that some teams faced during the competition was their robots not working consistently during the matchups. Moving forward, the Robotics team aims to “revise and make [their] robots more consistent in performance [to ensure] they perform the same every time,” according to Garbo. In addition, he emphasizes the importance of continuing to work on fundraising so they could afford the gear, technology and field elements used to build their robots. 

“Our school has been so underfunded in Robotics that two years ago, we went to [Otay Ranch’s Robotics] team, and saw a box of trash parts they had. [We] asked them if we could have it and those became our main batteries,” Nunes said. “This year, we [now] have a ‘V5 kit’, which is a new version of electronics [from the district and] enough funding for three different teams.”

In the next few weeks, BVH’s Robotics team will be hosting their first-ever competition at the BVH’s gymnasium; this will be the first home game hosted at Bonita in the history of the Robotics program. Garbo and Nunes expressed their excitement about the upcoming competition which will be held on Nov. 13. 

“It’s absolutely revolutionary to the Robotics club. [Hosting a competition] is something we’ve never experienced before, so we’re really excited to represent ourselves and show the rest of the VEX Robotics League [that] we’ve been the poor [and] underfunded school, [but] now we’re back [and] ready to go,” Nunes said.