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Jeff Davis County robotics students take top prize at competition

Karen Sanford / The Prentiss Headlight – Career Center students in the Robotics Program above pictured with their winning robot and administrators are (l to r) Superintendent Ike Haynes, robotics students Wendy Hathorn (PHS) and Brandon Mancuso (BHS), Dr. Thomas Johnson and robotics instructor Lucy Daughdrill.

Karen Sanford / The Prentiss Headlight – Career Center students in the Robotics Program above pictured with their winning robot and administrators are (l to r) Superintendent Ike Haynes, robotics students Wendy Hathorn (PHS) and Brandon Mancuso (BHS), Dr. Thomas Johnson and robotics instructor Lucy Daughdrill.

Nicknamed the “Carson Techs,” two local students represented Jeff Davis County on Saturday at the Lamar County VEX Robotics Competition held at Oak Grove High School.

Wendy Hathorn of Prentiss High School and Brandon Mancuso of Bassfield High School brought home the top prize in the robotic engineering challenge. Both are students at the Dennis Fortenberry Career Center in the robotics program.

The competition, presented in the form of a game, challenged students to use their robots in skills challenges. Eight schools participated, including Oak Grove, Hattiesburg High, Sumrall, Purvis, Biloxi and Poplarville.

“We treated this as a learning experience,” said Mancuso.

“And what happened?” asked Superintendent Ike Haynes during a presentation at Monday’s school board meeting.

“We won,” said Mancuso.

Led by robotics instructor Lucy Daughdrill, the program is in its second successful year. “We came up with a strategy,” said Daughdrill, “and kept advancing to the next round. Based on the competition, the students came back with ideas and modifications,” she said.

Dr. Thomas Johnson, Director of the Career Center, described the aspirations of some of the students in the program who have an interest in computer and mechanical engineering and also polymer science.

Jeff Davis County robotics students plan to attend the next competition on January 11 in Biloxi.

“I’ve long said the children in this county can compete with any children in the nation,” said Superintendent Ike Haynes.