These girls know how to rock-et

Winfree Bryant Middle School earned some bragging rights with a recent announcement from the Rocketry Club. The club took another giant step forward in its young life when it was notified the girl's team qualified for the national competition, which will be held in Plains, Va., in May....
Apr 10, 2013
 Photo: Kimberly Jordan • Lebanon Democrat

Members of the Winfree Bryant Rocketry Club girls team prepare a rocket for launch during a qualifying attempt at the Wilson County Fairgrounds on March 20. The girls will attend the nationals May 11 in Plains, Va.

Winfree Bryant Middle School earned some bragging rights with a recent announcement from the Rocketry Club.

The club took another giant step forward in its young life when it was notified the girl's team qualified for the national competition, which will be held in Plains, Va., in May.

According to club advisor Tammy Sheppard, the girls were just short of the 750-foot window the rockets are striving to reach to qualify; they turned in a height of 738 feet.

"We turned in a qualifying score of 16.12," Sheppard said. "We want to get as close to 0 as possible; that is the goal."

The seven members of the girls squad are the only team from Tennessee to make nationals. They beat out several other area teams, which are composed mainly of high school competitors. The competitions are open to seventh- though 12th-grades, and all of the competitors on the girls team are eighth-graders.

"They take the top 100 teams in the nation, and there were 782 competing teams," said Sheppard.

She said her students make up the only girls team competing in the various competitions.

"The buzz around the school has been phenomenal; we've had a lot of people around the area calling to congratulate us," she said.

Now, the girls will work overtime to complete the required four rockets that must be competition ready May 11.

The parts are ordered, according to Sheppard, and now the club has turned its attention to finding the funds to allow the girls to make the trip.

"Now what we're working on is trying to get there. It's a huge cost, because our two rockets were damaged to the point where we can't repair them. We now have to build four new rockets. No adult can touch it. The boys team can't touch them. We can advise them, but cannot touch them. They have to build them themselves."

She said the trip will cost about $9,000 for travel and hotel expenses, and the club is hoping for area businesses to help sponsor the team.

"We are hoping area businesses will be interested in donating to the cause because it's a phenomenal feat in itself. Who would have ever guessed that these seven middle school girls would make it all the way to nationals when competing against all these high schoolers?” Sheppard said.

Any business or individual interested in donating to the cause can choose from several levels of sponsorship options, according to Sheppard. Depending on the level of sponsorship chosen, Sheppard said T-shirts will be printed with the sponsors’ names that will be worn at the competition, or, businesses have the option of sponsoring at a level that will get their logo placed on the rockets themselves.

"What's really cool is any business that wants to help these girls, when they donate, we are looking to put sponsorships on the back of T-shirts for a certain donation level, and we're looking to put sponsorship signs on the rockets that will be displayed and launched in D.C.

"Any business whose logo is on a rocket will get invited to the fairgrounds to see their rocket go up," Sheppard said.

Anyone interested in helping the team get to nationals may call Winfree Bryant at 615-449-4960 and ask for Sheppard or principal Becky Kegley.

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