SHS physics team wins state in large division

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 6, 2015

Straughn High School’s physics team brought home big honors from the Alabama High School Physics Competition last week at the University of Alabama.

The team, composed of 17 seniors, juniors and sophomores, was broken up into three teams of four with five alternates.

Team one took home top honors in the large public high schools division, which is comprised of 4A-7A schools.

Team one consisted of Raj Patel, Brooks Rabren, CJ Philpott and Andrew Hartzog.

Patel had the privilege of going first, he said.

“I was pretty nervous,” he said.

Hartzog went last and the stakes were high for him.

“If I would have missed the last question, we wouldn’t have won first place,” he said.

Both Patel and Hartzog said they spent countless afternoons practicing for the competition.

“We were able to collaborate and learn together how to do it,” Hartzog said. “Once one person overcame the problem, we all did. It was a dynamic experience.”

Hartzog said students were timed, and if they answered the question correctly in 40 seconds or less, they received 5 points; if they answered it in 41 to 80 seconds they received 3 points; and if they answered it in 81 to 120 seconds they received 1 point.

“We were overall prepared,” Patel said. “Mrs. (Stephanie) Bryan did a great job helping us prepare.”

Bryan said she took a group of students last year to the event, but they went into it blind.

However, she paid close attention to what other schools were doing and was able to take that information back to Straughn to help her students prepare.

There she learned she could take students who had taken physical science, as well.

“We spent at least two weeks after school preparing,” Bryan said. “Not everyone on the team is in my physics class. All 17 kids worked together and we wound up with three really good teams. We were really competitive against the magnet schools and the 6A and 7A schools.”

Teams two and three took home fifth and sixth place. At the end of the second round, they were ranked 1-3.

“We had three teams, and all placed in the top 10 of the 30-plus teams from various schools,” Bryan said. “We also received third place overall. This is for all divisions, public, private and magnet.”

Ranburne was first place and McGill-Toolen won second.

“I personally think it was impressive that our team was competitive with schools in the private school division and the magnet science and math school divisions,” she said.

Other team members were Brenton Jennings, Gil Royals, Bryan Dunn, Josh Hudson, Ashley Hughes, Noah Rider, Johnathon Driver, Kayla Lynn Mitchell, Whitney Vaughn, Summer Wingard, Matt Dye, Joel Bass and Kayla Cooper.

“It was an awesome experience,” Bryan said. “As a teacher it was amazing to see the students come together and excel.”