While many Wilbraham & Monson Academy students started their winter breaks smiling at the thought of having more than two weeks off, five students from the Middle School were smiling on their first day of vacation for a different reason.
WMA earned a first-place trophy at the Massachusetts First Lego League Championship Tournament - Robonautica, held Dec. 16 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
"It was unexpected," Coach Luke Pelletier said. "The level of competition was totally different going from the qualifier to the state level. It was great to get there, and to leave with an award was incredible. It was a nice day. It was a nice finish to a great season, and it really was a great season."
WMA's team - Gabe Dziura '24, Brady Gouin '23, Michelle Itkin '22, Yuzuki Yamaoka '23 and Jinyu "Melody" Zhan '22 – finished second overall at a qualifier at Agawam High School Dec. 9 to advance to the state tournament.
At the state meet, which featured more than 70 teams, WMA won the Gracious Professionalism category after the students made a presentation regarding the unfortunate absence of two of its integral team members, who were unable to attend due to traveling home internationally for break.
"It struck a nerve, in a good way, with one of the judges," Mr. Pelletier explained. "The judge could see the team was tight and we came home with an award. Not many teams went home with an award. That's impressive at the state level."
And in a sign that the presentation was genuine, after winning the award for Gracious Professionalism, the three WMA team members who were in attendance immediately contacted the two who were en route home.
"They were texting with Yuki and Melody right away," Mr. Pelletier said. "Between airports and flights, it was nice to see them doing that as a team because the other two weren't there. This group clicked well together."