Student teams take on nationwide competitions

Student teams take on nationwide competitions
The Gunn Robotics Team poses with their robot after their first-place victory at the Idaho FIRST competition.
Gunn Robotics Team

On March 23, Gunn Robotics Team won the For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology Robotics Competition Idaho Regional in Nampa, Idaho, qualifying for the April 17-20 FIRST world championships in Houston, Texas. GRT’s robot climbed the leaderboards and joined the winning alliance of three teams in the finals, despite challenging mechanical and software failures.

The Idaho regional competition comprised practice matches, qualifications and playoffs. During practice matches, teams had a chance to test their robot in practice matches with other robots before the actual competition. During the qualifications, robots accrued ranking points for a chance to compete in the playoffs, which determined the winners of the event.

This year’s game was called Crescendo. Teams had a variety of ways to earn points during matches, which incorporated “notes,” foam rings deposited into goals for points. At the end of matches, robots gained points if they were suspended off the ground on the structures placed on both sides of the arena.

After the first round of qualifications, GRT, registered under the team number 192, was in 43rd place of 43 teams due to repeated control failures. After the second round of qualifications, however, GRT was in 20th place, and was selected to join alliance 7 by the alliance captain, team 2122. 

According to GRT member sophomore Anushree Jayaprakash, the team’s qualification for the playoffs was a welcome surprise. 

“That was just really encouraging for us because to come all the way from the bottom to (alliance 7) was crazy,” she said.

In the final best-of-three rounds, GRT’s alliance and the opposing alliance each won one match, leading to a final tiebreaker that ended with a score of 103 for alliance 7 and 97 for alliance 1. 

As the regional winners, GRT and their alliance captain team 2122 from Boise, Idaho, will continue to the FIRST world championship in Houston, Texas. Club advisor Kristina Granlund said that as soon as they returned, the team started on repairs.

“When we came back from our competition in Idaho, within 24 or 48 hours, team members had already gotten together and said, ‘Here’s what we need to do before we go to Houston,’” she said.

Granlund sees the exposure to other teams as one of the biggest benefits of the world championships.

“It’s a good opportunity for the team to see how other people live, and what other ideas other teams came up with to solve the same problem,” she said.

The Gunn Robotics Team poses with their robot after their first-place victory at the Idaho FIRST competition. (Photo courtesy of Craig Chang)
Gunn Speech and Debate
Gunn Speech and Debate

In recent weeks, members of Gunn Speech and Debate have competed in a slew of local and national tournaments. Among these competitions are local Coast Forensic League tournaments, which include a state qualifier and a national qualifier, and higher-level national circuit tournaments, according to Logistics Director junior Chinmay Khaladkar.

“Me and my partner have gone to a couple of national circuit tournaments,” he said. “The most recent national circuit tournament we went to was at Berkeley, one of if not the biggest tournament of the season in the whole country.”

The club consists of four branches: speech and three forms of debate (parliamentary, policy and public forum).

Sophomore Aman Solanki, a public forum debater who competed at Berkeley, sought the help of fellow accomplished debaters at other schools.

“For me, it’s become a forum for me to bond with other students at tournaments and connect with other local schools, like with Paly or a local Bay Area School, in preparation for national tournaments,” Solanki said. “Putting in a lot of work and time makes it rewarding.”

On March 1, two teams and two individuals — including Parlimentary Debate Captain junior Karen Tang — advanced from the state qualifiers tournament to the state championships.

“(California State Qualifiers) is a really prestigious, long, high-endurance tournament,” Tang said. “And that tournament was really great for (Parliamentary).”


From March 7-10, the 64-member Gunn DECA team competed in the State Career Development Conference in Anaheim, California. Two members qualified for the International Career Development
Conference, seven were medalists and 13 were finalists.

Previously, the team also competed in the regional Silicon Valley District Career Development Conference from Jan. 5-7.

DECA Inc. is a national organization that prepares high school and college students for careers in business management and administration, entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality and tourism, marketing, and finance literacy. To prepare for conferences, the Gunn DECA team holds online and in- person study sessions and has a mentoring system.

SCDC team finalist junior Jennifer Bukchin competed in the Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making event, taking a business-administration exam and participating in a partner case study at SCDC. To prepare, she completed practice tests, studied key terms and used flashcards to learn vocabulary. Her partner read books and articles to keep up with business trends.

Bukchin enjoys bonding with the DECA community during competitions.

“My favorite memory is definitely Door-Dashing food at night,” she said. “For States, I also liked going to Disneyland. I was there with friends (and) I got to see fireworks, do all the rides (and) get some good food.”

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About the Contributors
Fenton Zarlengo
Fenton Zarlengo, Reporter
Fenton Zarlengo is a sophomore and reporter. He enjoys all subjects, and is eager to learn about others.
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Senior Sophia Hwangbo is an online editor and photographer for The Oracle. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing tennis and spending time with family and friends.
Victor Dang
Victor Dang, News Editor
Senior Victor Dang is a news editor for The Oracle and has been on staff since August 2022. When not doing schoolwork, he loves springboard diving, being bad at video games and looking at GIFs of cats online.
Vivien Chen
Vivien Chen, Lifestyle Editor
Senior Vivien Chen is a lifestyle editor for The Oracle and has been on staff since January 2023. She likes birds, robotics and skiing.
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