MESA teams win state titles, Henson team advances to nationals

Charles County, MD - Dr. James Craik Elementary and Milton M. Somers Middle schools are the 2016 overall state Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) schools in Maryland at their respective levels. Both schools earned the honors at the statewide MESA competition held last week at John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Schools that earn the most points overall throughout the competition are chosen as the overall winner.

A team from Matthew Henson Middle School also earned a chance to compete at the national event next month. Henson’s prosthetic arm MESA team of eighth graders Shelby Hiens, Simone McCarter-Dadzie and Justin Stewart, and sixth grader Charles Martin earned first place in the challenge among competing middle schools.

The Henson prosthetic arm team was named the overall state middle school winner in the challenge. First-place winners at the state level in the Prosthetic Arm challenge advance to the MESA USA National Engineering Design Competition, scheduled for June 23-25 in Ogden, Utah. Only four students are able to compete during the challenge at the state and national events. Henson eighth graders Emily Kerns and Kira White are also members of the team. Coaches of the Henson students are Brian Palko, a computer teacher at Henson, and Kaitlyn Whitfield, a science teacher at Henson.

Craik’s MESA students placed in all four elementary-level state MESA challenges. The team earned first place in the Balsawood Bridge challenge, and third place in the Effective Communications, Storybook Theme Park Ride and SCRATCH computer programming challenges. Craik was the only competing elementary school to earn an award in all four challenges.

Students on Craik’s MESA team include fifth graders Colby Burch, Ethan Cline and Wyatt Newcomb, and fourth graders Zachary Huseman and Devin Knott, Balsawood Bridge; fifth graders Gabe Dinnea, Mackenzie Fox and Alayna Steinmetz, and fourth grader Emily Shuff, Effective Communications; fourth graders Amie Browning, Christian Giovacchini, Jordan Porter, Luca Sabatino and Amna Shah, Storybook Theme Park Ride; and fifth graders Jeannie Hughes, Jimmy Olmsted, Anna Sullivan and Maddie Sullivan, and fourth graders Rachel Chernoff and Isabella Grimsley, SCRATCH computer programming.

MESA students from Somers placed in three of four middle school level challenges. Somers took first place in both the ALICE Interactive Game Design and Hovercraft challenges. The team also received third place in the Basswood Bridge challenge. Team members include eighth graders Brianna High, Annie Landgraf, Alana Zimmerman and Kelly Resendes, ALICE Interactive Game Design; eighth grader Robby Bartlett, seventh graders Khushi Patel and Ebin Sebastian, and sixth grader Damanjit Singh, Hovercraft; and sixth grader Aastha Patel and seventh grader Sahil Patel, Basswood Bridge.

Coaches of the MESA students at Somers are Deborah Simmons, a mathematics teacher at Somers, and Sarah Williams, a mathematics and Gateway to Technology teacher at the school.

A MESA team from Westlake High School also placed at the state event. The school’s prosthetic arm team earned a second-place award in the challenge among competing high schools. Students on the team include freshman Brian Thomas, sophomores Alexander Johnson, Xavier Owens and Andrew Zimmerman, juniors Christopher Agbobli, Charles Carter and Joseph Carter, and seniors Jasmine Andrade and Tony Fitzgerald. Coach of the team is Daryl Faustini, a science teacher at Westlake.

The MESA team from North Point High School also competed at the state level. During the awards ceremony, North Point senior Abigail Payne was awarded a $4,000 scholarship from Maryland MESA. Payne was also recently named the Charles County recipient of the Northrop Grumman engineering scholarship.
Maryland MESA is designed to prepare students for academic and professional careers in mathematics, engineering, science and technology. The program's goals are to increase the number of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and related professionals at technical and management levels; and to serve as a driving force in encouraging and assisting minorities and females in achieving success in these fields.

Visit for more information on MESA.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

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