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Students make history in national championship

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  • | 4:00 a.m. July 9, 2014
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EAST COUNTY — Maureen Hudson is carving her name in Nolan Middle School’s history.

Hudson, who has only been teaching technology and leading the school’s Technology Student Association program since September, recently led her students to a record finish.

She and the 32 students on Nolan’s TSA team made competition history when they clinched the most trophies ever won by a single school at the middle school level of the National TSA Conference, held June 27 through July 1, in Washington, D.C.

Nolan students took home seven first-place trophies, two second-place trophies and one third-place trophy, along with 10 Top-10 finishes.

With the wins, Nolan also captured the championship title for the middle school division of the competition.

Braden River High students took home second place overall in national competition, winning trophies in Career Comparison, Future Tech Teacher, Essays on Technology and Structural Engineering categories, TSA adviser Gil Burlew said.

Although Nolan Middle has a reputation of dominating state and national championships — which now includes four national championship titles in five years — Hudson and her team didn’t know how well they ranked until the awards ceremony July 1.

“We knew we were doing well, but you never know until the awards ceremony where the chips are going to fall,” Hudson said. “We were just so super excited. It couldn’t have turned out any better. There are always a couple of disappointments, but you can’t complain when you have that many kids walk across the stage.”

Students competed in more than 30 categories at the national competition, which features about 200 teams of students from the United States and other countries, such as Germany.

The four-day competition included a variety of challenges, including interviews with judges and building onsite projects without knowing the assignment in advance Hudson said. Events ranged from Prepared Speech and Essays on Technology to Dragster Design and Structural Engineering.

Students were also required to wear professional attire and to maintain a business-like appearance during the entire competition. TSA uses the events and regulations to support Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education and future career preparation for middle and high school students, Hudson said.

For students such as eighth-grader Yoshua Torralva, the competition helped her realize future career goals.

“TSA has given me opportunities to expand my knowledge relating to technology and engineering that will lead me to a successful career path down the road,” Torralva said. “I would never have established such an interest in the technical world.”

Although Hudson has worked with students in TSA programs at other schools, such as Braden River High, her recent experience gave her a new appreciation for youth enrolled in the program, she said.

“The thing I’m most proud of is their work ethic and the time they put into it,” Hudson said. “We’re asking these kids to do very adult things. We’re asking them to create projects, write binders, go into interviews and learn programs that many adults don’t know.”

Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected]