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Ola High School's Robotics Team Clinches Top-10 Spot at 2024 VEX World Championship

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Ola High School’s 5203G robotics team secured an outstanding top-10 finish at the recent 2024 VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas, solidifying its place among the best robotics teams globally.

The No. 2-ranked Team 2011J from Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School in Ohio selected Team 5203G as its partner for match play. The combined team won its divisional bracket, emerging as champions of the Math Division and qualifying to compete in the final rounds of the global competition as one of the top 10 alliances.

Advancing to the World Quarterfinals and competing in the Championship Dome Arena has been a long-held dream for Team 5203G, and years of hard work culminated in the team finishing eighth in the world, topping off a year of outstanding accomplishments.

The team’s ranking in the top 10 is especially remarkable, considering the students faced a field of elite competitors representing 820 schools and 49 countries. Team 5203G’s impressive Gremlin robot and skills left no doubt regarding their place among the world’s most highly regarded robotics teams.

The success of Team 5203G extended to the Skills Score category, where it placed in the top 3% of competitors. The team returned home with two more trophies and a division banner to add to its growing collection of awards. Accolades earned at the World Championship include the Math Division Amaze Award, which goes to the team that has built an amazing, well-rounded, and top-performing robot.

In addition to the students’ extraordinary performance, Dr. Christie Schmitt and her husband, Tim, received the prestigious Inspiration All-Star Award for outstanding contributions to STEM and robotics education in the Southeast United States. They were inducted into the Robotics Education Competition (REC) Foundation’s STEM Hall of Fame, joining an elite group of educators, mentors, and volunteers. 

“I attended the VEX Robotics World Championships, and I was so happy to watch our robot 5203G Gremlin make it all the way to the top 10 alliances and robots in the world,” Ola High School Principal Nick Ellis said. “Their skills, design, and ability to adapt helped secure a spot as one of the top teams in their division. Our Mustangs showed why their team and robots rank among the best across the globe! We are so proud of their accomplishments. Go, Gremlins!”

The Gremlins' journey to the World Championship began with their victory at the 2024 Georgia VEX State Championship in February, where they earned the Excellence Award, the highest award presented in the VEX Robotics competition.

“Henry County Schools is extremely proud of Ola High School’s robotics program,” said Board Chair Sophe Pope (Dist. 4). “The students and Dr. Schmitt have given us so much to celebrate over the years and have been instrumental in positioning the district as a leader in robotics and STEM, in general.”

Team 5203G’s qualification for the 2024 worlds marks its third appearance at the event, and this year’s performance represents its highest-ever ranking – a historic feat for the team, the high school, and all of Henry County Schools.

“Ola High School’s VEX robotics program has nurtured a passion for STEM in many students, empowering them with valuable college, career, and life-ready skills,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Knowlton said. “This year’s success is the result of years of commitment and the ambitious ‘Pursuit of Exceptional’ that characterizes all we do in Henry County Schools. I have no doubt the team will realize even more success and ignite curiosity among their peers about all that is possible in the world of STEM.”

Team 5203G consists of 11th-graders Jayla Brown, Sebastian Cedeno, Katherine Mangual, Conner Middlebrooks, Makenzie Middlebrooks, Asha Pandya, Karina Pandya, Dustin Pouliot, and Carson Schmitt. Asha Pandya, Karina Pandya, and Carson Schmitt are founding members of the VEX IQ elementary school team that was started at Ola Elementary in 2014.

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.