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THS JROTC robotics team makes debut in VEX Robotics Competition

 (L-R) Charles Tauiliili, Filiga Tufa, Isalei Liaiga, Ladenia Lavatai, Francis Ah Vui.
Source: THS JROTC press release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Tafuna High School's Army JROTC robotics team will make history when they leave the territory today (Friday, April 21) to take part in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas on April 27-29, 2023. The competition provides students with hands-on experience in designing, building, and programming robots, inspiring them to pursue careers in STEAM fields.

THS is the first public secondary school from American Samoa to participate in the JROTC VEX Robotics Competition National Championship. Selected to participate on the Tafuna High School JROTC Robotics team are: Cadet Major Isalei Liaiga, Cadet Major Ladenia Lavata’i, Cadet Task Force Command Sergeant Major Charles Tauiliili, Cadet Battalion Command Sergeant Major Francis Ah Vui, and Cadet Staff Sergeant Filiga Tufa.

"We are thrilled to have our JROTC students competing in the VEX Robotics Competition," said Tutuila Togilau, Tafuna High School’s principal. "This is an excellent opportunity for our students to develop their skills in STEAM fields, while also learning valuable lessons in teamwork and leadership."

In preparation for the competition, the Tafuna JROTC students have been working tirelessly, meeting after school and on weekends to design and build their robot. They have received support and guidance from their JROTC instructors MAJ Siimoa Galoia, MSG Acania Puletasi, and SFC Lei Solaita, who have helped them develop their technical skills and fostered a sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the group. "We are proud to represent our school and our community in this competition," said Cadet Major Isalei Liaiga, the Robotics Team Captain. "We are looking forward to demonstrating our skills, learning from other teams, and having a great time."

The students are excited to represent their school and community on the national stage and are determined to showcase their skills. The THS Principal and JROTC Instructors also expressed their heartfelt gratitude towards the parents of the cadets for their unceasing support and encouragement. The students acknowledge that without their parents’ support, it would have been impossible to prepare for the competition. Accompanying the team on their journey to the competition will be MAJ Galoia and THS Counselor Ms. Jordanna Maga, providing additional guidance and support.

"I am so grateful for the support of my parents. They have been there every step of the way, providing me with the motivation and resources to pursue my passion for robotics," said Cadet Task Force Command Sergeant Major Charles Tauiliili, team Co-Captain.

The Tafuna JROTC Robotics team's participation in the competition is a testament to the potential of students from American Samoa. The team hopes that their success will inspire more students in their community to pursue careers in STEAM fields.

Tafuna High School PTA, Paramount Builders, Bluesky, and the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA) have generously donated to the Tafuna JROTC Robotics team.

Their donations have facilitated the purchase of custom-made polo shirts and hoodies, as well as customary wear that will be worn during the VEX World Parade of Nations.

The team has been chosen to participate in the parade, which is a significant honor, as not all teams have the opportunity to take part in the event.

Additionally, donation-contributions have enabled the team's pit area decoration, a custom banner, American Samoa flags, and field trips during non-competition days. The team is grateful for the sponsorship that has allowed them to fully participate in the event and proudly represent their community.

As the Tafuna JROTC Robotics team prepares for their upcoming competition, the entire school and community are rooting for their success. With the unwavering support of their families, school, and sponsors, the team is poised to make a strong debut on the national stage.

The Army JROTC, 8th Brigade is funding the all-expense-paid trip, including hotel and meals, for the competitors. The American Samoa Department of Education Director, Talauega Dr. Samasoni Asaeli, the DOE Deputy Director Dr. Teresa Atuatasi, the Assistant Director for Secondary, Dr. Dottie Aga-Tuisamatatele, and her staff, and the District Army Instructor for American Samoa Multiple Schools Unit (ASMSU), MAJ(R) Rodney Malauulu, have all provided invaluable support and assistance in advocating and providing additional funds to cover expenses outside of what the Army JROTC is obligating.

Best of luck to the THS JROTC Robotics team in their upcoming championship tournament.