Cranberry robotics team’s work lands it in World Championship

The Cranberry Area School District’s successful robotics program is sending four teams to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, which will take place in April and May.

“When you give the kids an opportunity it gives them the will to do well,” Cranberry Superintendent Bill Vonada said during the School Board’s meeting earlier this week.

Cranberry Robotics student Aiden Herrell-Ward, though, gives credit to teachers. “Often, they are here until 9 or later.”

Board President Tom Neely said city schools once dominated robotics events. “Now, we can compete with anyone.”

High School Principal Ritt Smith said the teams have raised about $4,000 for their trip. “We do ask for the board’s support. Depending on the result of the fundraisers, we may ask for some financial support.”

Neely said the district has supported the trip in the past, “and we will figure a way to support it this year.”

Smith said the robotics program, led by teachers Zack Bedee and Dan O’Brien, is moving Cranberry to the forefront.

“The kids put in hundreds of hours. I saw some of them here until 11 p.m. They are motivated,” Smith said. “Our teachers spend a lot of time with these students.”

He said there are six classes related to robotics, and that the classes have been added over the past two years.

Smith said robotics students from Cranberry and other schools in the area are going to the Thaddeus Stevens school, near Lancaster, to teach students from schools in that area about the VEX program.

Other business

The board accepted the review of audited financial statements. There were no deficiencies and no findings in the school district’s audit, according to Jim Heasley, of the Oil City firm of May and Co. “It is as clean as a whistle.”

Heasley noted the federal assistance was $1,359,000, down by $422,000 from the previous year. “You (the school district) have done a good job of managing your expenses.”

Food service manager Kim Daugherty informed the board that equipment for the high school kitchen remodeling project should be arriving in late May, which should lead to an early summer installation.

Daugherty also updated the board on the federal commodities program. She said it is now possible to buy items, such as apples, locally. “The program has come a long way since we were in school.”

The board approved Cranberry’s share of the budget for Riverview Intermediate Unit 6. The district’ share for 2024-25 is $21,311.