Bees take flight in Notre Dame-hosted robotics event

School fielded 16 different teams in event that featured 48 middle-school and high-school teams.

VEX Robotics competitions differ from FIRST robotics in bot size and configuration as well as the "games" the teams play. At Notre Dame, its award-winning robotics program competes in both with last weekend's VEX event, hosted by Notre Dame, a prime example.

"It was huge!" exclaimed Jerry Palardy, a current parent and team mentor as well as one of the school's hardest working robotics advocates. "We had 48 high-school and middle-school teams from all around the state."

He said that NDP had 16 teams at the event, including 10 "Killer Bees" high-school teams, six of which have members who contend in FIRST Robotics competitions, plus six "Mildly Aggressive Bees" middle school-only teams.  

According to the international VEX Robotics organization, its competitions "bring STEM skills to life by tasking teams of students with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge." They also say classroom STEM concepts are put to the test as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communications, and more. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels and culminate at the VEX Robotics World Championship each April.

On Saturday, most of the NDP teams were younger and relative newcomers compared to the rest of the competitors, but Plalrdy said they still held their own, while having fun and learning.  

Highlights from the Dec. 16 event included:
• Seven Notre Dame teams advanced to the 'finals,' including five middle division teams
• Three out of the eight alliance captains were from the Bees
• The #8 alliance was all Bees
• The big winner of the day was NDP's 9th-grade team, 33T, or "He who shall not be named," which included Joshua Samuels, Nicolas Genord, Santiago Plazas-Leguizamo and Thomas Joppich. They placed second in qualifications, third in skills, and advanced to the semifinals, winning the "Amaze Award" for their fast and agile robot design.  

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at