EAST COUNTY — When she moved to the United States from Russia seven years ago, Valeriya Mikhaylova was 11 years old and barely spoke English.
When she attended freshman orientation at Braden River High School in 2010, she looked for a club that could help her make friends, better learn the language and challenge her mind.
She enrolled in Braden River’s Technology Student Association teams — one of the best in the country.
“I was interested in technology and TSA sounded interesting,” Mikhaylova said. “It’s programming and public speaking, which helped me (learn English).”
Although Mikhaylova graduated in May, she will compete at the high school level of the 2014 National TSA Conference, June 27 through July 1, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, in National Harbor, Md., with her Braden River team.
Teams from Lakewood Ranch High School, Bayshore High School and other area high schools will compete against 200 other schools at the conference.
But, the Pirates have more at stake. If the Braden River team wins at the national competition, they will be the only school in the conference’s history to win three national competitions in a row, said Gil Burlew, Florida TSA board member and Braden River High TSA adviser.
Braden River High’s 25-person team will compete in more than 30 events.
Events include: biotechnology design, computer-aided design (CAD) 2-D and 3-D, desktop publishing, fashion design, flight endurance, future technology teacher, video game design and others.
Burlew has no doubt his students will make history this week.
“Individuals win competitions, teams win championships, and I have the dream team,” Burlew said.
For TSA adviser John Frank, the competition encourages students to think about the bigger picture and prepare for careers after high school.
“These kids are getting certified in programs before they even get to college,” he said. “They’re doing spectacular things.”
Local middle school students also will compete at the conference.
For more information on the national TSA conference, visit tsaweb.org.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].