LEWISTOWN - Mifflin County students have a proven record of excellence in technology skills, and this year their list of achievements grew.
Eight students from the new Technology Student Association chapter at the Mifflin County High School have qualified to compete in the club's national competition this summer.
These students captured the TSA state judges' attention with projects such as automobile design, prototype manufacturing and biotechnology.
The Mifflin County High School students who competed in the TSA state competition are, from left, Alex Kurtz, Andrew Kline, Andrew Traxler, Kevin Cahill, Ashley Foltz, Emily Berryman, Megan Ingram, Jacob Fultz, Paige Laughlin, Mahesh Pai, Jonathon Chester, Caleb Druckemiller and adviser Jason Donaldson.
Photo submitted by JASON DONALDSON
"This is a first-year chapter, and my first year as adviser," said teacher Jason Donaldson. "I'm happy with how (the first year) turned out."
Jonathon Chester, the club president, won third place in the transportation modeling competition and qualified for nationals. He built a model 1951 Willys Jeep station wagon to display and race. Chester also had to compile a technology book with the history of the vehicle design, his concept and drawings.
Also qualifying for nationals were Ashley Foltz, Jacob Foltz and Emily Berryman, who received second place for their manufacturing prototype; and Kevin Cahill, Andrew Traxler, Alex Kurtz and Andrew Kline, who won third place for their biotechnology design.
The students plan to raise funds to attend the national event in Tennessee.
Administrators support the program when they can, Donaldson said, but he knows the students will have to take on more fundraising responsibilities in the future.
The club adviser also is looking for other ways to expand students' learning opportunities in the community. He hopes to find local skilled laborers such as engineers and designers to speak with the students and offer advice about their projects. Such relationships and experiences will help link students to potential careers, Donaldson said.
Chester described the club as the 4-H of technology.
"TSA is not just a club that travels to competitions," Chester said. "It is a preliminary experience to post-graduation vocations through competitive events."
Paige Laughlin, club treasurer, said the students really bonded during their chapter's first year.
"When I first joined (TSA), I just thought it would be cool to get out of school," Laughlin said. "But the people in TSA are so accepting, so cool. I've learned a lot."
Through TSA, Laughlin and her teammate Megan Ingram also have brought national attention to the school district.
In 2010, the two students won first place at the national competition for their design and manufacturing work.
Ingram and Laughlin teamed up again this spring to develop a biotechnology research project on botox.
Ingram said botox is made from the deadliest toxin known to man. Initially, she said their reaction was to ban the product entirely. After more research, though, the team discovered that botox has medical benefits that outweigh its risks for some serious medical conditions, she said. Their proposal suggested that the product be used only after a doctor deems it medically necessary for the patient.
Laughlin said each student attending the state competitoin had to compete in at least three events.
Also receiving top-10 awards at the state competition were:
* Emily Berryman for biomedical research essay;
* Jacob Foltz for future technology teacher and desktop publishing;
* Paige Laughlin for photographic technology.
The club meets each Tuesday after school and includes ninth-grade students from the junior high.