Lego robotics team demonstrates award-winning missions before Moffat County School Board |

Lego robotics team demonstrates award-winning missions before Moffat County School Board

Craig Middle School Lego Robotics Team members and coaches gather for a group photo after demonstrating to the school board some of the skills that saw them placing first and second in competitions held Nov. 19 in Aspen.
Sasha Nelson/staff

CRAIG — An out-of-this-world presentation by the Craig Middle School Lego Robotics Teams on Thursday, Dec. 13, allowed students and coaches to demonstrate for members of the Moffat County School District Board of Education the skills that saw teams place first and second in their first competitions, which were held Nov. 10 in Aspen.

Moffat County sent two teams to compete for the first time in a program celebrating 30 years with the theme “2018 Into Orbit.”

The seventh- and eighth-grade combined team researched methods for successfully growing plants in space. The fifth- and sixth-grade combined team researched exercise in space, creating events for Olympics in Space.

At the competition, teams were tested on the project presentations, technical interview, teamwork activity, robot performance, and demonstration of core values.

“Some wish for it, we work for it,” reads the team motto, printed on the back of their T-shirts.

Out of 22 teams competing in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League Mountain Qualifier, the seventh- and eighth-grade combined team placed first in robotics games, the sixth-grade team placed second of 22 teams in core values, and Mentor Sean Hovorka — an engineer with TriState Generation and Transmission — received the outstanding coach/mentor award.

CMS Lego Robotics team coach Cristina Vanzo, high school student team helper Hayden Short, and Hovorka were on hand to explain the competition, as students from each team presented their ideas for space to the school board and a room packed with proud parents.

FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, according to the FIRST Colorado website.

Support for the program is one of the initiatives resulting from savings realized primarily from staff reductions following the closure of East Elementary School.

High school students will also have the opportunity to compete in FIRST Robotics, beginning with a league-wide kickoff event Jan. 5.

Flyers were handed out to invite the community to attend the first annual MCHS FIRST Robotics build season kickoff, set for 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5. in the Board Room of the Yampa Building, 755 Yampa Ave. For $5, a hot breakfast may be purchased. with proceeds going to further support the program.

Reports of awards continued during Superintendent David Ulrich’s report to the board. He began by congratulating Craig Middle School teacher Sara Linsacum, who was recently named Assistant Principal of the Year by Colorado Association of School Executives. Members of the board presented her with a small gift.

Young artist Evan Lay — a fourth-grade student at Sandrock Elementary School — described his artwork, which was recently awarded the “Blue Ribbon for Elementary” school art from the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Young artist Evan Lay — a fourth-grade student at Sandrock Elementary School — describes his artwork that was recently awarded the “Blue Ribbon for Elementary” school art from the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Evan’s mother, Andrea Lay, a family friend, and his art teacher, Julie Whitecotton — who teaches art at Ridgeview and Sandrock Elementary Schools — were on hand as school board members congratulated Evan for the achievement.

The calendar group has begun to meet, and Ulrich said he hopes to have the 2019-20 academic calendar approved before spring break.

On a somber note, Ulrich spoke briefly about his disappointment in the outcome of the trial of former Moffat County coach and teacher Justin Folley, who was recently found not guilty of 10 counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child, as defined under C.R.S. 18-6-403.

“The verdict in the trial of our teacher left me outraged. It left me flabbergasted,” he said. He added that his dismay revolved not around the jury or judge, but rather the inadequacy of current laws to protect children.

Board Secretary Dr. Elise Sullivan helped to launch a petition to change the law on, which, within hours, had garnered hundreds of signatures. To sign it, visit

Ulrich said he has already contacted Colorado State School Board of Education Representative Joyce Rankin and State Rep. Bob Rankin to offer his personal support in efforts to change the law to afford greater protection to children.

He thanked the Craig Press editorial board for its strong stand on this issue and noted the inclusion in that editorial of the names and addresses of officials to contact about closing a loophole that leaves children unprotected from sexually explicit text messages.

The five members of the board also:

• Unanimously approved a consent agenda to approve minutes from their Nov. 29 meeting and December personnel recommendations.

• Unanimously approved a resolution to authorize and certify to the Board of County Commissioners of the County of Moffat to raise:

  • For the general fund, $10,430,844 from a standard levy of 20.516 mills and 0.041 mills for abatements and refunds, and 4.732 mills approved as a mill levy override, and 0.692 mills approved by voters as a hold harmless mill levy override, and
  • For the bond redemption fund, $2,298,873 to be raised from a levy of 5.726 mills.

All mills to be levied against the net valuation of assessment in the amount of $401,479,680 for all taxable property located within the boundaries of Moffat County School District for the fiscal period beginning July 1, 2018, and ending June 30, 2019.

The members of the school board will meet again on Jan. 24, when they hope to interview and appoint two at-large members to the board.

To be eligible for appointment, each candidate must:

• Be a registered elector of the school district for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the date of appointment.

• Have never been convicted of a sexual offense against a child.

Any person who meets the qualifications and desires to be considered for the appointment is invited to file a written notice of intention to the office of the Superintendent of Schools by Jan. 18 at 775 Yampa Ave.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or

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