Sequoyah robotics team 49th in world competition

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
05/24/2011 07:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After passing qualifying rounds in November, four robotics teams from Sequoyah High School participated in the VEX Robotics Design System World Championship in March where one of the teams placed 49th.

“It didn’t kick in until the second day, but I finally remembered that this was world and there were teams from all over the world,” said Sequoyah junior LaDonna Ballard. “There were teams from China and Indonesia, pretty much everywhere. So it was a really big thing. It was a really big experience.”

The VEX Robotics Design System offers students a platform for learning about areas with career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Beyond science and engineering principles, a VEX robotics project encourages teamwork, leadership and problem solving among groups.

“We added the VEX component because we found that our robotics students needed to practice their skills and have the opportunity to learn more hands on in the fall because first robotics only takes place in the spring, and so we had all of this down time in the fall where the kids could be learning,” said Daniel Faddis, Sequoyah robotics team leader.

This was the team’s first year participating in the world competition, which took place in Orlando, Fla. There were 15 students on the Sequoyah team that participated, along with a team from Claremore.

Sequoyah’s team consisted of Alia Willie, Jerilyn White, Shelbi Blackman, Martha Hardbarger, Shadow Hardbarger, Christie Tiger, Ballard, Shannon Orcutt, Patricia Sourjohn, Hope Harjo, Stacie Campbell, Taylor Goodrich, Dennis Chewey, Keiron Marshall and Laramie Fixin.

“We had a design period of about two weeks of just coming up with ideas and brainstorming,” Ballard said. “The actual building and working on it was about three or more weeks.”

For scoring in the competition, the teams had to design a robot that was able to grab tubes and place them on pegs at different levels and heights. Extra points were given during a bonus period if the robot was able to climb a ladder and stay there.

“As far as the competition is was what we are used to except a lot larger,” Faddis said. “One of the key things I think we did while we were there was we got to carry the Cherokee Nation flag in to represent us as a sovereign nation, and it was pretty moving to the kids because we were behind Canada and in front of China, and so when you’re in between two major countries of the world like that it’s pretty impressive.”

The robotics team started at Sequoyah four years ago. The team has participated in different competitions in Oklahoma and won several awards.

“One of the reasons we started the robotics program at Sequoyah is that it is a hands on way of learning,” Faddis said. “It’s not just a text book. It’s not just papers. The kids are in there and it’s hands on and they actually learn through actually doing things. There are a lot of statistics and stuff out there that show that the kids comprehend I, but one of the things I find neat about it is that the fact that the way our Cherokee elders used to teach their children and stuff. It was a hands on way of teaching, and so to me robotics brings traditional teaching methods to a modern science.”

During the offseason when the team isn’t building for competitions, members meet two days a week. During the building season, they meet four or five nights a week.

“For VEX, it’s in the fall from starting around late September through the beginning of December, and for first robotics it starts in January and goes for six weeks and we mingle in stuff in between. The competition is usually around spring break,” Faddis said.

Along with Faddis, coach Jacob Tanner Jr., Debra Nelson and Dr. Calvin Cole lead the Sequoyah robotics team.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org?• 918-453-5000, ext. 6139

About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/25/2015 11:00 AM
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The American Indian Education Foundation has set April 4 as its student scholarship deadline. The AIEF seeks students of all ages who are focused on their educational goals and who demonstrate the ability to make positive change in their communities and in modern society. It expands opportunities for students to attend and remain in tribal or non-tribal colleges by providing educational leadership and networking services. Along with scholarships, AIEF also offers services such as the Tools of the Trade, Emergency Funds and School Supplies. Through Tools of the Trade, the AIEF offers small grants to vocational/technical schools so they can provide professional supplies to Native American students. The Emergency Funds service provides small grants to selected colleges, which can then assist students with expenses that might otherwise threaten their ability to stay in school. With its Schools Supplies service, the AIEF each fall distributes basic school supplies for young Native Americans in preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools serving reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest. The program also helps vocational and technical schools provide professional supplies for Native American students who choose to learn a trade. The AIEF follows up on the School Supplies service by providing scholarships to Indian peoples pursuing higher education. The AIEF is one of America’s largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans, supporting more than 225 students each year. For more information or to fill out a scholarship application, visit <a href="http://www.nrcprograms.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_index" target="_blank">http://www.nrcprograms.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_index</a>.
BY LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON
Special Correspondent
03/24/2015 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – Two schools in the Cherokee Nation brought home some new hardware in March. Within hours of each other, the girls basketball teams at Sequoyah High School and Locust Grove High School respectively won the Class 3A and 4A state titles on March 14 at Oklahoma City’s State Fair Arena. After losing their regular season finale at Fort Gibson, the Sequoyah Lady Indians rattled off seven straight postseason wins, including six by double digits, to earn the team’s first state title since 2007, when current Tulsa Shock guard Angel Goodrich led the Lady Indians to the third of their three consecutive titles. Pouring in 33 points in the title game on 11-of-18 shooting, Sequoyah sophomore guard Cenia Hayes helped power the Lady Indians past the Chisholm Lady Longhorns in the title game. As a team, Sequoyah went 7-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line in the championship game and outrebounded the Lady Longhorns by a 36-25 margin. Hayes was named the Class 3A tournament’s Most Valuable Player and her teammate, senior Jhonett Cookson, was named to the all-tournament first team, as was CN citizen and Adair High School senior Kylie Looney. Sequoyah senior Sierra Polk was named to the all-tournament second team. In Class 4A, the Locust Grove Lady Pirates had a tougher road en route to the school’s first girls basketball state title. After dropping the area final to Vinita, the Lady Pirates qualified for the state tournament by winning the consolation final against Berryhill and were bracketed with No. 4 Harrah and the back-to-back state champion Fort Gibson Lady Tigers. The Lady Pirates needed overtime to beat Harrah and squeaked past Fort Gibson by six in the semifinals. In the final, Locust Grove held Oral Roberts University signee Ashley Beatty to 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting en route to a 51-33 win over the top-ranked Anadarko Lady Warriors. Two CN citizens, seniors Kennedy Sokoloski and Madison Davis, earned Class 4A first team all-tournament honors. The Sequoyah boys basketball team also qualified for the 3A state tournament, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual state runner-up Verdigris. Other schools at least partially within the Nation’s jurisdiction to send teams to the state tournament consist of the 6A runners-up Muskogee Lady Roughers, the 5A runners-up Tulsa East Central Lady Cardinals, the 4A state champion Tulsa Central Braves, the 4A state runners-up Tulsa McLain Titans, Stilwell Indians, Chouteau-Mazie Wildcats, Sperry Pirates, Fort Gibson Tigers and Lady Tigers, Pryor Tigers, Owasso Rams, Okay Mustangs, Adair Lady Warriors, Vian Lady Wolverines, Hilldale Lady Hornets, Collinsville Lady Cardinals, Vinita Lady Hornets and Grove Lady Ridgerunners. Averaging 25.5 points per game, Stilwell senior Chase Littlejohn was named to the 4A boys all-tournament first team. With Stilwell eliminated in a double-overtime semifinal game by eventual state champion Tulsa Central, Littlejohn was the only player on the first team who did not participate in the state title game.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
03/24/2015 08:00 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Native American Student Association plans on planting on campus various heirloom seeds obtained from the Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank. This is first time heirloom seeds will be planted on the campus. NASA President Elise Clote, a junior at the university, said she and other NASA members in February traveled to the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to get the seeds. “We received several different kinds of seeds from the Cherokee Nation,” she said. “(Administration Liaison) Pat Gwin met with us and just showed some different seed options and what they have.” She said they received corn, squash, bean, gourd and other seeds to plant. Clote said NASA is teaming up with GroGreen, a campus organization with a garden on campus, to plant and manage the seeds. “At one point, the Native American Student Association was trying to get our own garden started on campus and then we decided that it’s probably be better to partner with another organization. That way we could grow our members and also educate their members and then learn more from their RSO (Registered Student Organization) as well,” she said. The seeds are to be planted in a courtyard garden near the campus’s Maple Hill dormitories. Clote said it is important to have the seeds growing on the campus to help educate people about the plants. “I think it’s important to bring some of the agricultural history back to the area considering how many tribes once lived here,” she said. “We also have a Trail of Tears marker on campus where some of the Cherokee camped out on what is now the University of Arkansas.” Clote said NASA members are looking forward to the future of the garden and working with other students. “We do have a lot of Native students that are involved and are really looking forward to not only planting these seeds on campus but also working with other RSOs on campus and educating their groups,” she said. She said she’s eager about the path NASA is taking when it comes to the garden. “I’m really excited that NASA’s growing and that we’re working on projects like this, that promote Native foods sustainability and promote using our own seeds to cultivate and grow our own food,” she said. Clote said all food harvested from the garden would be be donated to local food pantries or academically studied. “Everything will be eaten, or if some of the fruit goes bad or has some kind of disease problem, people will use those academically to study those plants,” she said. NASA plans to have a public ceremony on May 2 at the garden. “We’re going to have a opening ceremony and it’s just so that we can bring some indigenous plants back to campus, which is kind of the whole purpose of why we wanted to do get them from Cherokee Nation and have them planted this year,” she said. Clote said she hopes to see the garden continues with the possibility of obtaining seeds from other tribes. “I don’t know what next year will hold, I feel like we may branch out and talk to some different tribes about getting some of their seeds,” she said. CN cultural biologist Feather Smith-Trevino said the NASA students planting the heirloom seeds helps with the preservation of the seeds and gives the students an educational experience. “It helps us with the preservation, really continuing on these heirloom lines,” she said. “It’s going to help a lot with the education for all the students that are over there, getting them interested. Hopefully, it will be something that they can continue on so that we’ll be able to work together in this program. “It’s nice to see that this younger generation is involved in this and they’re passionate about it,” she added. “It kind of helps them to learn how to take care of their own food, grow their own food. Not only is it educational in the Native American side of it, it just really helps everybody all the way around.”
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
03/22/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University’s 43rd annual Symposium on the American Indian is set for April 14-18 at its Tahlequah campus. The symposium features events that help celebrate and spread the importance of Native American languages, arts and cultures. NSU Center for Tribal Studies Interim Director Alisa Douglas (Seminole) said this year’s theme is “Children: Seeds of Change.” “The focus of the theme poses the question of where our tribes will be in the future when our younger generation steps into those roles, and the passing of our tradition and culture and how that is taught to students today, and how will they interpret our culture and the vision of the tribe and where we will be as a tribe in the future,” she said. Douglas said the theme is relevant to not only today’s society, but to past societies as well. “I’m sure those in the past have posed the same questions, too,” she said. “So, here we are in the present day and then we’re asking the same questions, ‘where will our tribe be?’” Douglas said the symposium is a good for people who want to learn more about Native American cultures and about what individuals are doing to raise awareness about Native issues. Events will range from the American Indian Film Series to panels concerning Native issues. “A lot of our speakers are not just those close to the Tahlequah area, but we have speakers nationwide,” she said. Douglas said the symposium kicks off at 7 p.m. on April 14 with the screening of the film “Ronnie Bodean,” which stars Cherokee actor Wes Studi. She said Studi, along with the film’s director and producer, Steven Judd, would conduct a Q&A session after the screening. The week also includes more film screenings, a concert, discussion panels, a stickball game and powwow. Douglas said this year the symposium is adding a cultural art activity class with Elizabeth Scott. The Cherokee artist will lead participants in making their own copper art. The class is for 6 p.m. on April 16. The class is free and open to the public with 25 seats available. Douglas said although there are only 25 seats, people are welcome to observe Scott teach. Douglas said she believes this year’s symposium will be successful. “We hope everybody can come out and enjoy it,” she said. “Everybody’s put in a lot of hard work and I’m thankful for those.” The symposium’s main events will take place at NSU’s University Center, excluding the American Indian Symposium Film Series, which will have screenings in the W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center. The stickball game will take place at NSU’s Beta Field and the powwow will take place in the campus’s multipurpose event center. To view the agenda, visit <a href="http://bit.ly/1MRWQ9W" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/1MRWQ9W</a>.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
03/18/2015 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – According to the Oklahoma State Senate Communications Division, the Senate passed a bill to allow for more flexibility when deciding the eligibility for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program by the State Regents of Higher Education. Senate Bill 137 will “direct the Regents to create an appeals process for students denied OHLAP because of their families’ special financial situations,” the release states. “The purpose of the OHLAP program is to help provide free tuition to any Oklahoma student who wants to get a college degree and meets the qualifications. However, many students have been denied the scholarship because of their parent’s Social Security disability payments or nontaxable military pay including combat pay, hazardous duty pay and active duty basic allowance for housing benefits among other payments,” said Brooks, R-Washington. “This bill will allow the Regents to review these special cases to ensure that the state isn’t keeping someone who truly has a financial need from getting a degree.” In order to qualify for OHLAP, a family’s taxable and nontaxable income cannot exceed $50,000 annually, the release states, but because of this new bill each case can be reviewed when a family’s income includes nontaxable military benefits or federal Social Security Administration payments due to the death or disability of one or both parents. The bill will allow a student to qualify if income is found to be less than $50,000 excluding those monetary benefits. SB 137 will now go to the House for further consideration, according to the release. For more information, call Sen. Brooks at 405-521-5522.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/11/2015 02:00 PM
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. –The 38th annual California Conference on American Indian Education will be on March 15-17 at the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel. The conference theme for 2015 is “Indian Education: Meeting the Challenge.” The conference offers an opportunity for individuals to share traditional academic teaching and learning. It is designed to advocate academic excellence and educational opportunities for Native American families, educators, tribal leaders and board members. It also provides opportunities for networking. The conference honors the commitment of families and those who contribute to the advancement of Indian Education in California and elders. To view the agenda, visit <a href="http://www.ccaie.org" target="_blank">www.ccaie.org</a>.