South Charlotte

Student rocket teams from Victory Christian Center School soar to triumph

Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte has qualified to represent the Charlotte region in the aerospace and defense industry’s premier STEM competition for student rocketry.
Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte has qualified to represent the Charlotte region in the aerospace and defense industry’s premier STEM competition for student rocketry.

Victory Christian Center School

Rocket Teams Qualify for National Competition: For the sixth straight year, Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte has qualified to represent the Charlotte region in the aerospace and defense industry’s premier STEM competition for student rocketry.

Two rocket teams won slots to compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), the world’s largest student rocket contest in May near Washington, D.C. The students competed against 810 teams from around the U.S. to win two of the 100 slots. Victory students scored in the top 10 percent, which earned them invitations to the Rockets on Capitol Hill Reception where they’ll rub elbows with Congressional leaders and aerospace officials.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry, TARC is a key component of the aerospace and defense industry’s strategy to build a stronger U.S. workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Only the lowest 100 scores qualified. The rockets had to soar to an altitude of 775 feet with a flight duration of 41 to 43 seconds and return without breaking a raw egg (the payload).

Kimberly Williams, science chairman and rocketry advisor, was pleased by her teams’ scores and rocket designs. The students named the rockets The Pratt XXVII after founding Principal Michael Pratt, and The Trump, after President Donald Trump. It was the first time they had assigned names to rockets since their first year of competition. That year, their rocket named The McCullough III, placed in the top 20.

“The design this year is really complicated,” said Williams, who is also one of the region’s few Level 2 National Association of Rocketry certified instructors. Because requirements were much more complex than previous years, she added, “We completed it with a lot of prayer.”

Also, she said for the first time, “Students were required to construct two different body tubings for each rocket, and the bottoms had to be smaller than the tops. The children had to build transitions to connect the top to the bottom, which they designed themselves.

“That was probably the most exciting part for the children,” Williams said. But whenever students failed to cut the model precisely, they had to scrap it and start over. These student rocketeers have been trained to execute without adult supervision since all communication between instructors and students is prohibited at the competition. As students prepare to launch from the field at TARC, Williams and her faculty assistants will only be permitted to cheer at a distance from the stands.

The top placing teams at TARC will split more than $100,000 in cash and scholarships, and the overall winning team will travel to Europe to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge in Paris.  

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Honored: Two of athletic directors were recognized with state awards April 3 at the North Carolina High School Athletic Directors’ Association annual awards lunch in Wilmington. Chris Satterfield, Butler High School athletic director, received the Braveheart Award which is presented annually to an individual who has overcome extraordinary circumstances

Masanori Toguchi, Hough High School athletic director, was named Region 6 Athletic Director of the Year for his outstanding leadership at Hough and his service on numerous committees across the state.

Essay contest winners: Three middle school students were winners in the Young Explorers essay contest sponsored by the World Affairs Charlotte Council. This year’s contest was focused on hunger and students researched hunger and food scarcity in a country, then wrote an essay outlining the issues and proposing solutions. Kaelin Shirley of Ridge Road Middle took first place, Cathryn Paquet of Bailey Middle took second and Chelsea White of Bradley Middle took third. 

Morehead-Cain Scholars: Four seniors in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are among the 66 Morehead-Cain Scholars this year. The scholarship, given by the Morehead-Cain Foundation at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, is among the nation’s premier academic awards.

The Morehead-Cain Scholarship covers all expenses of four years of undergraduate study at the university. Selection criteria include leadership, moral force of character, academic achievement and physical vigor and recipients are chosen based solely on merit and accomplishment.

The CMS students are:

Leslie Ruby Acosta Padilla, a senior at Harding University High. Padilla is a volunteer at Carolinas Medical Center, mentors middle school students headed to high school and leads a tutoring program called Somos Unidos. She is vice president of the school’s Cultural and Leadership Club and captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team. She wants to explore a career in medicine.

Patrick Anderson Bradley, a senior at Myers Park High. He is president of the Student Government Association and the Teen Democrats club, as well as co-captain of the Academic World Quest team. He is on the school’s Honor Council and leads tours for new Myers Park students. Bradley is interested in studying foreign language and history, with an eye toward a career in politics.

Dennis Montgomery Cmiel, also a senior at Myers Park High. He is a leader of the Christ Church Youth Group and a member of the church’s Youth Council. Cmiel has helped to plan meetings, dances, fundraisers and European trips. He is co-captain of the Myers Park boys’ varsity basketball team. He also coaches a girls’ recreational basketball team. He wants to study business and theology, and is considering a career in management, ministry or coaching.

Sara Rose Holley, a senior at East Mecklenburg High. Holley created TEDxEastMecklenburg, a showcase for student ideas and speakers. She managed the speaker application process, coordinated the organizers and raised money. She also founded a Speech and Debate Club at the school, leads school tours and is ranked in the National Blackbelt League (taekwondo). Holley is interested in studying psychology, writing and entrepreneurship.

These four students, and the 62 others in the program, will have summer enrichment that will include an outdoor leadership course, public service in the U.S. or abroad, research at sites around the world and experiences in private enterprise. The summer program is complemented by the Morehead-Cain Discovery Fund, which allows students to deeply explore what interests them. 

National Youth Orchestra

Participant: Carnegie Hall has chosen Drew Dansby, a cellist from Charlotte, who will join 115 other young people ages 16-19 from around the country in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. This summer, the orchestra will perform at Carnegie Hall before traveling to Latin America for debut concerts in Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia led by conductor Marin Alsop. Dansby lives in Charlotte 28209. 

Charlotte Catholic High School

Foundation fundraiser: The Charlotte Catholic High School Foundation’s annual fundraising gala, raised almost $145,000 on March 25 at Carmel Country Club. Teacher grants, tuition assistance, teacher wish list items, and special awards for outstanding service all are made .

New this year was a Teacher Wish List, which gave parents and friends of the school an opportunity to select needed and sought-after classroom items and donate them directly to the teachers. A weather station, cameras, sound equipment, forensic science kits, furniture, computer accessories and a 3-D printer were among the items. Gala attendees donated nearly $10,000 in teacher wish list items. This year’s event also included both a live and an online auction.

The fundraising portion of the evening ended with a special request to continue funding the Sister Paulette Williams, RSM Awards for Outstanding Service. Thanks to the generosity of donors, funds raised at the 2017 Gala will endow the Sister Paulette Awards for years to come. Sister Paulette was the principal at Charlotte Catholic High School for many years. She is credited with helping build the foundation for Catholic education in our city. Her leadership, dedication, and guidance moved a small school from what is now Holy Trinity to the existing Charlotte Catholic High School campus. The Outstanding Service Award named in her honor recognizes five educators each year who excel as mentors and help our students grow academically as well as spiritually. Each honoree receives $5,000 as an expression of gratitude from the CCHS community. Nominations for the 2017 Sister Paulette Awards currently are being accepted, and the winners will be announced at graduation ceremonies in June.

In addition to the Sister Paulette Williams Awards, the Foundation also announced the establishment of a new initiative called the Teacher Impact Fund. This fund will allow the Foundation to award a larger number of deserving teachers in meaningful ways, such as tuition assistance for teachers with students in the MACS system.

Symphonic Band: The Symphonic Band received straight superior ratings after a performance assessment by the South Central District Bandmasters Association on March 27-31. This was the band’s first assessment appearance under the direction of Timothy Cook, and its first straight superior rating since 2012.

Three adjudicators from across the state evaluated the band’s performance, which included works by composers Ron Nelson, Edwin Franko Goldman, and North Carolina composer Steven Bryant.

The next performance by the Symphonic Band will be May 21 at the school.