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Local school to participate in TARC competition

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The Wilson Post

The all-girl rocketry team from Winfree-Bryant Middle School is ready to soar into the Team America Rocketry Competition in Washington, D.C. this May.

The seven-member team, led by the schools 8th grade science teacher Tammy Sheppard, traveled to Huntsville, Ala., for a preliminary rocket launch where they qualified to enter the national competition. Sheppard said of the 782 rocketry teams nationwide, only 100 of the top teams were selected to be a part of the prestigious competition.

Most of the teams that go are high school teams, and usually it takes a few years of practice before they can qualify. We are one of the only middle school teams, and it is our first year doing this, so we are really excited, said Principal Becky Kegley. They are the only team selected from Tennessee. I could not be more proud.

Sheppard learned about the program this past summer while studying at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. I am considered a NASA teacher. I went to the academy this summer and asked Mrs. Kegley if we could start a team. We currently do not have a lot of girls going into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field. This is a way to get them excited and engaged in engineering and those types of careers. NASA wants more female engineers, she said.

Although the Winfree-Bryant boys rocketry team did not qualify for the competition, they will be joining on the four-day trip to cheer on their classmates. We will be driving up on Thursday, May 9, and on Friday we are going to have breakfast on Capitol Hill. They are going to get the opportunity to see historic sites and learn on this trip, Sheppard said.

The team will launch four of their constructed rockets, which cost an average of $200 each to build, during the competition. Sheppard said the school will host a yard sale, pancake breakfast and silent auction on Saturday, April 27, to raise funds for the trip which will cost about $9,000 for supplies and traveling expenses.

Lochinvar has made a donation and we are hoping to get other businesses to support our team, she said.

For more information or to donate to the trip fund, call 449-4560.

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