An unimaginable loss

Robo Washington (1 of 5)

You don’t hear people talk much about legends any more.  This post is not intended to be political in any way – it is a tribute to a man whom none can speak poorly of.  A legend who lived among us.

Last night, Chris VanderSlice passed away after a nearly four year battle with leukemia.  I knew Chris for nineteen years, and I have hundreds of personal experiences with him in all kinds of situations.  Chris was always seeking the best for everyone around him.  He had energy to match his height, and I saw him take on everything – he never faded from the pursuit of what was right.  He had a passion for young people, and I watched him tirelessly advocate for students.

Chris was an inspiration to so many of us.  His strength of character and commitment to our young people inspired me.  His encouragement and support inspired thousands of students.

I picked the picture that starts this post carefully.  It shows Chris as we all knew him.  It was taken in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2009.  Most people don’t know this, but Chris was a huge proponent of the Grandville robotics program.  In 2009, a group of our sixth graders signed on to play BotBall – a robotics competition primarily for high school students.  Chris was an assistant principal at the middle school, and he thought this was a great challenge for these young people.  Our young students went on to place in the top three teams at a Regional event in St. Louis, earning them an opportunity to play at the National Championship in Washington D.C.  This event was over the 4th of July, when many school employees are getting some time away, but Chris was right there with us.

I learned a lot from the way Chris lived his life over the years, but his approach to facing cancer had an even bigger impact on me (and thousands of students).  “Grit” became a standard part of everyone’s view of life, and the grit Chris displayed in fighting cancer was an example for all of us.  Losing Chris leaves a huge pair of shoes to fill.  The world has too few legends, but he certainly was a legendary leader to those around him.  I’ll close with one of my favorite “Chris tweets,” and a couple more photos from that hot July trip to Washington D.C.  that a bunch of sixth graders shared with him.  Goodbye Chris, you will never be forgotten.

Vanderslice

Robo Washington (4 of 5)Robo Washington (3 of 5)Robo Washington (2 of 5)Robo Washington (5 of 5)

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Grandville High School RoboDawgs set State and National records – and head off to VEX World Championship

The Grandville High School RoboDawgs are having their best VEX Robotics season ever – and they continue to break state and national records for high school robotics teams.  In February, Grandville broke state and national records by qualifying twelve High School VEX teams for the Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship.  The RoboDawgs brought home Champion, Finalist, and Semifinalist trophies from that State Championship – and they qualified six RoboDawg VEX teams to play at the VEX World Championship.  These six teams also claim a state and national record – no other public high school in America qualified six teams for the World Championship.

This Wednesday, Grandville High School will send off more than two dozen RoboDawgs and mentors to the VEX World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.  On their way to this accomplishment, RoboDawg teams were Champions or Finalists in eleven tournaments and leagues – and they won both the West Michigan Regional Championshp and the Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship.  The teams’ 2016-2017 competition record is below, along with key awards won at each event:

Tournament Play

  • October – Northwest Michigan Regional VEX Qualifier – Six of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Judges Award
  • October – West Michigan Halloween Tournament – Six of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Tournament Finalists, Robot Skills Champion
  • November – Hudsonville VEX Robotics Tournament – Five of the top eight teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Finalists, Excellence Award, Design Award, Build Award
  • December – West Michigan Holiday Tournament – Five of the top eight teams were RoboDawg teams.  Tournament Finalists, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • January – Jenison VEX Robotics Tournament – Five of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Design Award, Build Award
  • January – Grand Traverse Academy Regional VEX Qualifier – Five of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Finalist, Design Award, Think Award
  • February – Belding VEX Tournament – Four of the top ten teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Excellence Award

League Play

  • September – Early Fall Tuesday VEX League – League Champion, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • November – Late Fall Tuesday VEX League – League Champion, Excellence Award
  • November – Late Fall Thursday VEX League #1 – League Champion, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • November – Late Fall Thursday VEX League #2 – League Champion, Excellence Award, Design Award

Regional and State Championships

  • January – West Michigan Regional Championship – Six of the top eight teams were RoboDawg teams. Tournament Champions, Excellence Award, Design Award
  • February – Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship – Tournament Champions, Tournament Finalists, Tournament Semifinalists, Robot Skills Champion

Annual Open House and Silent Auction – Tonight!

BFHL5466It’s that time of year again – time for the annual Robot Open House!  Tonight from 6:30-9:00, visitors can see dozens of award-winning robots at the Grandville Robotics and Engineering Center.  (4900 Canal SW, Grandville)  Guests at this annual event will also see demonstrations of the team’s 3D printing and CNC milling capabilities.  Autonomous boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, and high-altitude balloons will also be on display.

Come join us as we celebrate the team’s 19th year – and, if you like, bid at our annual silent auction.  All proceeds go to support the RoboDawgs – the largest and most successful high school robotics program in the country.

 

 

RoboDawgs win State VEX Championship!

A quick post from the party bus on the way home.  

It was a Dawgs day at Michigan Srate University today.  RoboDawgs were on the winning alliance – and the finalist alliance.  This is the first time we have ever won the State Championship AND taken second place!  We also won the State Skills Challenge.  Six or seven of our twelve State Championship teams have qualified to play at the VEX World Championship in April.  (We kind of lost count – what a day!). A full update in a day or two.  For now – some photos!

A big day for the RoboDawgs

It’s 6am, and the RoboDawgs are on the move.  After a 15 hour FRC build day yesterday, the team is up and running!  Off to the State of Michgan VEX Championship!  Then, after some RoboDawg VEX Robotics teams qualify for the VEX World Championship, we’ll be back to the Robotics Center for another six hours of work on our FIRST Robotics robots!  Here we go!