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Up with robotics

South Boston News
Sixth graders under the instruction of Regan Priest show off their robotics skills as Coleman Speece, chairman of the Halifax County Public Schools Education Foundation, Greg Lytz, vice president of Mid-Atlantic Broadband, Tad Deriso, president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Broadband, Tay Bost, treasurer of the Education Foundation and superintendent of schools Dr. Merle Herndon look on. (SOMcL photo) / October 17, 2013
The Halifax County Middle School robotics program received a major boost yesterday as the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation presented a $5,500 check to the Halifax County Public Schools Education Foundation to go towards the popular student activity.

The gift will be used to replace Lego Robotics equipment that is currently outdated and for which replacement parts are no longer available.

Regan Priest, robotics instructor at the middle school, said the money will allow him to purchase new Lego Mindstorms Evolution 3 kits, directly benefiting an average of 100 eighth graders each year. Also helped: some 100 seventh graders who will receive robotics equipment currently in use, to be handed down from the eighth grade as the new kits become available.

Tad Deriso, president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Broadband, and MBC vice president Greg Lytz were on hand yesterday for a check presentation to Foundation president Coleman Speece and treasurer Tay Bost, school superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon and HCMS principal Faye Bruce.

Deriso said his company strongly supports robotics programs in area schools. Just this week, said Deriso, he talked with a representative of a British firm who pointed to the importance of robotics programs in middle and high schools. The interest that robotics creates among students is very important to employers, the British representative told Deriso.

Sixth grade students at the middle school demonstrated that interest as robotics team members staged a brief competition as part of yesterday’s check presentation. There was even a challenge match between Deriso and Lytz. Lytz emerged the winner, receiving a big cheer from the youngsters on hand.

With big smiles on their faces, the students also cheered their instructor, Priest. Several of the middler schoolers announced that robotics class was definitely their favorite.

Herndon and Bruce expressed their appreciation for the donation, noting that with tight budgets, the MBC gift will make it possible for the school division to purchase equipment that otherwise it could not afford to provide to students. The high school robotics program, carried out at the STEM Center, was discontinued several years ago due to tight budget conditions.

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