What did you do during spring break? As many members of our APS family were enjoying a relaxing week away from school last month, these students were earning awards in engineering and the arts:

ROBOTICS ROOKIESThe Alpena High School FIRST Robotics team competed at the District Robotics Tournament in Traverse City on March 21 and 22. The two-day competition was the Alpena team's very first time at a FIRST competition, but that didn't stop them from making a huge impression! The team won the prestigious Rookie All-Star Award. This award is granted to the team that, in the judges' estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate and which embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST. It is FIRST's most prestigious award for rookie teams.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an annual international competition designed to build science, engineering and technology skills that inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication and leadership. Learn more about FIRST here. The District FIRST Robotics Competitions span two days with 12 qualifying matches before the play-offs. Alpena's team, nicknamed "5 Below 50," has been working for months on the design, construction and programming of their robot. AHS FIRST Robotics TeamThe team was ranked 4th out of 40 teams at the end of the first day of qualifying matches but narrowly missed the playoffs at the end of the qualifying matches on day two.

Congratulations to the team, pictured here in their nifty t-shirts and safety glasses (left to right):  Andy Keskimaki, Max Kaszubowski, Kelsey Ordway, Joshua Sommerfield, Aaron DeCaire, Mason Momrik, Robert Burke, Wyatt Hanna, Patrick Kelley, Alexis Brink, Katie Cook, Emily Thayer, Keegan Ingle, Samyak Harsh, Ben Zybytowski, Zach Grulke, Melissa Doubek, Ben Diamond, Gen Goren. Missing: Bryan Abram, Abram Purol, Mitchell Mead, Clay Cross.

INSTRUMENTAL HONORS Several Alpena High School Band students recently performed at the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association’s State Solo and Ensemble Festival in Lapeer, Michigan. Of the 26 events from Alpena, 18 of them earned first division or “excellent” ratings and eight of them earned second division or “good” ratings. The students qualified for state by receiving excellent ratings at district solo and ensemble festival in February.

Students in 10th-12th grade who performed a solo were required to play a proficiency exam, which included sight reading and major and minor scales. At the most advanced level, Proficiency III, students earning excellent scores were Katie Cook (flute), Courtney Marshall (alto saxophone) and Cindy Atkinson (cello). Students earning second division ratings at the Proficiency III level were Asger Nissen (alto saxophone), Courtney Wicklund (xylophone) and Greg Kucharek (bass clarinet). At the Proficiency II level, Jaimee Reynolds (French horn) earned an excellent score and Liz Meier (French horn) earned a second division rating. Students earning excellent scores at the Proficiency I level were Isabelle Denstaedt (flute), Caileigh Nitchman (flute), Ben Stevens (tuba), and Sarah Daniel (trumpet). Students earning a second division rating at the Proficiency I level were Rory Larkin (trombone) and Cailtin Borke (French horn). Freshmen soloists earning a first division rating were Angela Salacata (flute and piano), and Kaitlyn Noiles (trombone).

Brass QuintetThe ensembles that earned first division ratings were the flute duets of Katie Cook and Isabelle Denstaedt and Caileigh Nitchman and Isabelle Nitchman, the French horn trio of Liz Meier, Jaimee Reynolds and Kelsey Ordway, the saxophone quartet of Courtney Marshall, Asger Nissen, Casey Larkin and Andrea Matzke, the trombone quartet of Macie Weiland, Rory Larkin, Kaitlyn Noiles and Dylan Konarzewski, the brass quintet of Megan Burke, Monica Smith, Jaimee Reynolds, Ben Stevens and Molly Wawro (pictured), and the trombone octet of Monica Smith, Rory Larkin, Macie Weiland, Kailtyn Noiles, Dylan Konarzewski, Alayna Nugent, John Sexton and Shaughn Reynolds. The ensembles that received a second division rating were the saxophone trio of Courtney Marshall, Andrea Matke and Casey Larkin; and the brass quartet of Dylan Konarzewski, Maya Miller, Sarah Bodus and Ben Stevens.

Senior Katie Cook was selected to perform with the MSBOA’S Michigan Youth Art Festival Honors Band, based on the score of 97 on her Proficiency III flute solo. In addition, she was also nominated as an Outstanding Soloist for the MYAF Concerto Competition. Katie will play with the Honors Band in May at Western Michigan University. This is the highest honor a high school instrumentalist can earn!

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