BEAVERTON – The “Ultimate Sport for the Mind.” That’s how the First Robotics Organization describes their robotics competition. After hearing both the excitement and disappointment in his voice I think that Beaverton senior Elijah Hayes would agree with their assessment. “I love robotics,” he said.

Hayes mentioned that his senior year had been going “really well” prior to the coronavirus shutdown. “I have straight A’s going and was in the process of finishing my chemistry class.” He is in a self-paced course that allows everyone to work at his or her own rate. He is also taking a college level pre-calculus class this year. His combined grade point average and SAT score has him ranked fourth in his graduating class.

Sports have been a big part of his life. He has ran cross-country and been a member of the track team for about six years. He was good enough on the track to have qualified for the State Finals in pole vault in both his sophomore and junior years. As captain of the cross-country team last fall, Hayes looked at his role on the team differently. He felt that it was more important to concentrate on team goals rather than personal improvement, and worked to help others get better. He has decided to forgo track this spring. He mentioned that, “robotics interferes with track a little and my pre-calculus class requires about 15 hours of work each week outside of school.”  

The Robotics season was well on its way to being one of the highlights of his senior year. “Robotics was going excellent,” he said. “We had our best robot ever.” His team which included; Marc Snooks, Victoria Gentilucci, Nicoli Claypool, Clayton Varner, Brandon Powell, Breonna Noll, and Morgan Mclaren was excitedly preparing for their first competition which was scheduled for last weekend in Midland.

Robotics starts during the first week of January when the specifications are released. This year the robots had to be able to shoot a ball into a target, spin a wheel, and climb onto and navigate a balance beam. He was pretty confident that this year’s robot would be competitive. The second competition is scheduled for Shepherd over the first weekend of April. After competing in the two preliminary competitions some teams will qualify for the State competition with the possibility of making the World Championship.

Elijah is the son of Tom and Tina Hayes. He also has an older brother, Parker, who attends Northwood University. He will be attending Central Michigan University himself where he will study Secondary Education with a major in Mathematics and a duel minor in Physics and Leadership Studies. He has earned a scholarship as part of the Leader Advancement Program at CMU. He had to compete with a pool of potential students that numbered 3,000. After a series of cuts he was one of the final 80 students to receive the award.

When asked why he decided to become a teacher Hayes responded, “I love helping and working with people.” He already has some practical teaching experience having worked at Camp Rotary for the last three summers. As a camp counselor he taught three different Merit Badges; Communications, Game Design and Programming. Of the three Communications is his favorite. He likes it because he has a lot of “free reign” in designing the course. Effective communication was the objective of the course/merit badge.

Like the other seniors that I have talked to he is disappointed that some activities have been postponed or cancelled, but not angry. Everyone understands that certain actions had to be taken to protect the community. He does hope that the Robotics competitions will be rescheduled and school activities like the senior campout and pranks will be allowed to occur. He did say that the ‘Virus made me realize that I need to start hanging out with friends more.” Hopefully he will be able to do that soon.

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