2012-04-20 / Front Page

Robotics team nears fund-raising goal

By Kristy Wagner
Staff Writer


South Portland robotics team mentor, Sean Manning, left, waves a sign to attract cars to the Riot Crew car wash on Saturday with the help of Gavin Damian-Loring, middle, and Abby Rioux. (Kristy Wagner photo) South Portland robotics team mentor, Sean Manning, left, waves a sign to attract cars to the Riot Crew car wash on Saturday with the help of Gavin Damian-Loring, middle, and Abby Rioux. (Kristy Wagner photo) The Riot Crew, South Portland High School’s robotics team, raised $1,936 between car washes and donations at Napa Auto Parts in Mill Creek on Saturday. The funds raised by the car wash brought the team to a total of $31,300 of the $35,000 they will need to travel to St. Louis, Mo. at the end of the month.

“The car washes are free, but people can donate as much as they want to,” said Ralph Newell, teacher liaison for the team.

The team won the British Aerospace Electronic Systems FIRST Granite State Regional competition with a robot the group spent about 45 days constructing in January and February. The team’s robot had to be able to pick basketballs up and shoot them at a hoop nine feet in the air. There were one, two and three point goals. The robot had to be able to run autonomously, as well as by remote control.


Members of the Riot Crew robotics team tirelessly scrubbed and rinsed vehicles on Saturday. The car wash at Napa Auto Parts raised over $1,500 for the team’s upcoming trip to St. Louis, Mo. (Kristy Wagner photo) Members of the Riot Crew robotics team tirelessly scrubbed and rinsed vehicles on Saturday. The car wash at Napa Auto Parts raised over $1,500 for the team’s upcoming trip to St. Louis, Mo. (Kristy Wagner photo) “The kids know every part of this robot,” said Riot Crew coach Robert Libby.

Libby has been the coach of Riot Crew for three years, but has been helping as a mentor for the team since 2004.

“There’s so much interest in the whole program,” Libby said. “It’s great how students learn professionalism, how they work under deadline and how they learn to have a huge project and what they can do with it in a certain amount of time.”

Sean Manning, a mentor for the team, stood on the curb in front of Napa waving a car wash sign around and motioning for cars to pull in.

“I’m a mentor. This is my fourth year and all three of my kids are in the program,” Manning said. “Today we are hoping for $1,000. Last time we got $1,200.”

The championship takes place in St. Louis April 26-28 and, with 18 students and 10 mentors on board, the trip became very expensive.

Libby said other efforts to raise funds have been successful, but as of Saturday’s car wash there were only a couple weeks left.

“We’re doing very well. We are three quarters of the way with raising funds,” Libby said. “We have had a lot of fundraisers in the last few weeks.”

The riot crew had a car wash at Napa on April 7 and, at the Maine Mall the same weekend, demonstrated a robot previously used in competition and collected donations. The students also hosted a spaghetti dinner, among other events.

“All the businesses in South Portland have been just wonderful,” Newell said. “They read articles in the paper and they just send us money.”

Libby said some local businesses donated cash, while others donated items the team could raffle off.

He said donations have been coming in through the mail and at every fund-raising event the team has put on.

“We’ve had a lot of people, like Ralph was saying, seeing articles and hearing about it on the radio coming out and just mailing checks. Not just people from South Portland, but from all over the place,” Libby said.

At the car wash on Saturday, people would pull into Napa just to hand one of the team members or Libby a check or a $100 bill.

“(The car wash) is the last event we have planned at this point,” Libby said, but added that the team will continue to take donations and may have another fundraiser if they can fit it in.

Libby said they are close to meeting the $35,000 mark, but if they fall short the team will still go to St. Louis.

“We’ll figure that out,” Libby said. “We do have some savings that we will dip into if we need to and we can raise those funds again when we get back.”

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