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Jessica Boucher
07-02-2001, 03:56 PM
This is in reply to Kate's thread "Why do you do FIRST", taken to another level.

***

I got pulled out of a freshman history class for FIRST.

The woods technology teacher at Watertown, Mr Pallokat (Happy Birthday, Pal !!!) somehow visited our history class and talked about FIRST. Now, I still dont know how he got interested, but somehow he met the Nonnebots (team #38).

Frankly, I remember that first meeting really well; it sounded like a meeting for building a Battlebot (complete with lasers & all). We seriously had no idea what we were getting into.

How did I personally get to the place I am today? I had one of those "I am totally disgusted with my team, get me out of here" moments. I found out some devastating information regarding my personal life, and I got totally paranoid about going to the UTC regional 2 weeks later. I remember going to Philadelphia in 1999 and when we werent picked for the finals, how the team just kinda sat there and layed all over eachother. I did not want that torture of sitting and watching that while I did nothing.

So thats why I have a reputation for being, well, really unlike myself at that regional. I couldnt stand standing still. I talked to every person I met at that regional, even the girls primping in the bathroom. (Thats how I met Kristen Kelso, even though for the longest time I didnt remember meeting her until Nationals). Thats also where the "Robot Chick" thing came into play, with that one little yellow sign that got me wayy too much camera time: "Robot Chicks Have More Fun". That sign is laminated now & on my wall (on the back of it, the Bridgeport, CT team signed it). Though there were many positive and negative reprocussions for 237 winning the regional with 131 & 209, I was personally totally greatful, because I never had to watch my team lay all over eachother (well, for other reasons too, but that was a big one).

Rewind a bit to when I became disgusted with my team, 2 weeks before the regional. A team update came out about needing student volunteers for the media tent at Nationals. I will never regret sending that email, and I will always be greatful to Sandra Darah, wherever she is working now. Your 2000 media tent crew misses you ;)

Being in that tent opened me up to a new realization for me: you dont have to be on a team to be in FIRST. Also, and more importantly, its ok to be friends with people on other teams. No matter what, we will always have Orlando (not literally, I'm actually putting a spin on an old "Casablanca" quote, so if the location changes, dont tell me I was wrong).

From then, fast forward to that summer, when I met Kristen again, through an email to the team's website. She introduced me to all the people I know today. Thanks, babe ;)

I stay in FIRST now for the people, not primarily for the robots. Its amazing the people I know and talk to each day, starting with Ken in the morning (before hes even gone to bed over in CA) over the Delphi forums, and saying goodnite to a dazzling myraid of people...some constants, more variables.

***

Ok, so this was a little long, but its the reason why I stay in FIRST, for the people and the experience that is like no other.

I guess this is also, in a way, my goodbye to #237. Thank you for pulling me out of that history class, Pal; thank you for keping me involved, Ms Schulz, thanks to all the students and adults.... because if you hadn't kept me here...I'd probably not be the girl I am today at all, I'd probably be just another mediocre theatre chick. (And no, you dont disgust me anymore, you guys are awesome)

I graduated on the 19th, but it didnt feel like I did until a couple of evenings ago when I was at a meeting with the Board of Ed about how the team will function next year. The superintendent suggested that some of the board meet with some of the adults and some of the students. She pointed to me when she said that, because I was the youngest in the room. I answered without thinking, "I am not a student"...she replied with "Youre not?", and the woman next to her said "No, shes not, I gave her her diploma."

Saying "I am not a student" struck me more than anything that was said at that meeting. I cried all the way home thinking about that phrase.

Thank you, FIRST, for being the constant in my life throughout this. Because of you, I am trying my hardest to get to Nationals by train in 2002. Because of you, I am a business major, because of you, the RCU is growing faster than I expected, because of you, I now have a job that is never done.