Leadership of 2415 not allowed to participate at Houston: looking for a team to help out


Writing on behalf of team 4550, who are local to me in Denver. While me team flew out early yesterday, theirs was planning on flying this morning. Due to multiple reasons, including the fact that ALL DENVER AREA SCHOOLS ARE SHUTTERED DUE TO A CREDIBLE THREAT, most of the team’s flight has been canceled. The two people from the team who will be here (Houston) are looking for help setting up and unloading, at least. They may need other help as well. They are in Hopper. Would some of y’all be available?



We’ll be flying in this afternoon, so once we get there we’d be more than happy to help out however we can.



We were punished because we left our rooms after room checks, not because of the fact that we had a strategy meeting, though the fact that we held one seemingly behind the coaches’ backs almost certainly factored into our punishment. We’re still traveling with the team.



I’ll send some Kraken team members by once we get there today

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I generally stay out of threads like this. At least for the last few years but this statement caught my attention.

I assume it was explicitly stated that you needed to stay in your rooms past a certain point (room checks) and you guys not only left your rooms without telling your chaperones, you also held a secret meeting without them?

From a teachers perspective going on trips like this are a nightmare. You are taking kids that could be as young as 13 very far from home and dropping them in a hotel room by themselves. You have full liability for your students and because of that certain rules (like curfews and tape ins) are created to minimize their risk.

These sorta rules are not to prevent you from having scouting meetings. They are there to stop different gender team members from sleeping in rooms together, students from leaving and wandering around the city at night alone as well as other possible scenarios that can induce extreme risk for the people in charge of you. If you leave your hotel in the middle of the night and get kidnapped perhaps it is your chaperone who is going to be questioned on how this sorta thing could have happened. Regardless of your age you are their responsibility.

By leaving your rooms past curfew you broke a very serious rule that caused (and should do so) your chaperones to lose complete trust in all of you. That alone in my opinion is grounds for a very serious punishment and it is entirely your fault.

Now listen I get it. I am only a few years detracted from being a senior on an FRC team and we too held meetings without our mentors privy. This is for a number of reasons I will not discuss publicly but I understand your intentions. The thing is, even if you didn’t have a private meeting and just met each other outside of your individual rooms past lock in it is still a very serious issue for a school sponsored trip and unfortunately you became an example made. Just a quick tip. If you are going to try and have a meeting past lock in there are dozens of good video chat apps that wont require you to break your lock in rules.

I am sure this decision was not easy for your mentors and coaches and instead of giving up and leaving your team in what you insinuated was not a very good state perhaps do your best to apologize to your coaches explaining that you understand you broke a very serious set of rules and maybe even come up with a different punishment that won’t destroy your teams chances at success. The decision based on your timeline to help other teams came incredibly quickly and maybe trying some good old fashioned humility can get you guys at the very least back to helping your own team.



Were you not able to do it over the phone? If we needed to meet for strategy, the mentors would just check on us and allow us to discuss for a slight bit longer. They would make sure the other members were in their rooms though. Despite this, we have never encountered an extremely short time as you described.

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There are two other points I’d like to add on to what’s been said.

The first point is that if your group includes non-seniors, they may pay a steeper price next year for what you plan to do this year.

The second point is that your team may have rules that students have to follow while at an event and by abandoning your team the possibility of being sent home is an option.

A better approach for the five of you to take is to either help (mentor) the other members of the team, who probably need it, or ask permission from your coaches/mentors if you can help (mentor) another team but have the other team talk with your coaches/mentors first.

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As a member of 2415 for the past 4 years, coming into this season I could not wait to be a leader and a role model for my underclassmen, just as my seniors were for me in my freshman and sophomore years. In that regard, I have failed to set a good precedent, and I am ashamed at our severe misjudgment which caused this predicament for all team members uninvolved.

By no means was I attempting to place blame with our coaches for our situation, as they doled out the punishment which they felt was necessary, something which is well within their rights to do.

However, I assure you that the decision to prioritize helping other teams over our own team did not come as quickly or as easily as you implied. This is not a gut reaction, as our punishment was decided upon over a week ago. We were told that we were to have no influence on our robot in any capacity at Houston, which included coaching our underclassmen during the competition.

Although we attempted to find an alternative punishment which would not actively hurt the team which is near and dear to our hearts as you suggested, the coaches were stagnant in their decision, something which they were fully justified in doing.

While we have done our best to prepare the rest of the team over the past week, simply wallowing in the stands over our transgression at what is (for some of us) our last competition was frankly not as appealing as taking the culmination of our experience with FRC and using it to aid other teams.

I appreciate your effort in trying to convey the coaches’ perspective, and it has only reaffirmed the gravity of our mistake, yet despite this, we are attempting to make the best of what we are able to, and offer our assistance to any teams that are willing to accept it.



It does sound as if you are taking this very seriously. And I’m sure you can appreciate the fact that your mentors are even allowing you to attend with them. (As I said per policy on my team, you would have been sent home with your parents paying for it and would not be allowed to attend again without a parent) I am happy things worked out that way.

I would caution, however, to make sure your mentors also understand what you are proposing. It may have been their intention that you “wallow in the stands” as a way to “think about what you’ve done” so to speak. The fact that they’ve explicitly banned you from helping your team may mean they will be less than pleased if you help another.

Also make sure you know exactly what kind of commitment you can give a team your helping. I would hate for them to be expecting you to help them on the practice field while you’re mentors (thinking you have nothing else to do) assign you to gather scouting data or something. By having your mentors in on the plan a sad misunderstanding may be avoided.

And good luck to both your team and any you may help. Make sure you away least try to make the best of whatever the situation ends up being. (As you seem to be doing :slight_smile: )



[quote=“Sperkowsky, post:26, topic:354941”]
These sorta rules are not to prevent you from having scouting meetings. They are there to stop different gender team members from sleeping in rooms together, students from leaving and wandering around the city at night alone as well as other possible scenarios that can induce extreme risk for the people in charge of you.[/quote]

And, extreme risk for the student as well :slight_smile:

This is almost certainly a case of the school setting down rules and the teachers enforcing those rules. Those rules apply equally to the robotics team as to the football team, the band, the cheerleading squad and any other group of kids. The rules apply when that guy Doug, who has been suspended three times for drug use and is the wildest, craziest guy in the entire tri-state area goes on a trip. The district can’t have one set of rules for robotics and another for football, because they never know when Doug will join the robotics team, and they really don’t trust their teachers to decide which rules are appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

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The coaches felt disrespected that they were not notified about the meeting, which is our fault, however, rather than sit out our last FRC competition we would rather help other teams succeed.

Given that you just got into trouble by not telling your coaches about your strategy plans, I find it curious that you’ve failed to mention, in all of your posts, how your coaches feel about this “helping out other teams” plan. Have you talked to them about it?



Would it matter? The punishment has been doled out and they cannot participate with their own team. These are seniors after all, and on the cusp of what we would consider adults. What further punishment can be dealt other than refusing to allow them to go at all?



If they are not going as part of school team, they can do what ever they choose to. Why would team and school have any issue (unless they are petty)?

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Because the school is still responsible for them when they are on a school-sponsored trip, and the team’s mentors and coaches are the ones that will get yelled out if something happens to a student who was wandering where they weren’t supposed to be.

Were I a mentor/coach in this situation, I’d only allow it if I knew exactly what team they would be with, with periodic check-ins, along with agreement from the other team’s mentors and coaches.



If they are going on their own (not with the team), they are no more mentors or school’s responsibility or the control.

I totally understand your point, if students are under mentor/coaches/school’s responsibility, students must adhere to rules, no exception. Our team members went out for swim in the middle of night at St. Louis, without permission or adult supervision, it was not pretty. There are million things that could go wrong, and when something goes wrong , those in charge will be held responsible and more importantly have to live with it.

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If it isn’t spring break, it could be tough to be excused from classes if they are going alone.

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In my experience its as simple as filling out a form a week or two before and letting your teachers know. However, they did say that they are attending with their team. Its definitely a good idea to make sure you communicate to your advisory what you’ll be doing, the school could try to make an example out of you for disobeying your advisers or what have you.



How so? The FIRST Championship is essentially a conference if you aren’t competing, and even in College it’s somewhat easy to get your professors to co-operate with you if you’ll be missing class for a conference, even when it comes to rescheduling exams. You could also frame it as mental health days, to help you have some enjoyment and get ready for the last month or two of school. Worst case, 4 or 5 days of missing school isn’t enough to get the police knocking on your parent’s door for truancy.



I mean, one possible scenario is the school withholds their diplomas. That would be a further punishment. Without knowing the full circumstances, the teachers, the administrators, the district, I’d be cautious about this. I’m not doubting the intentions of these kids, but this seems like something that could blow up bad if the wrong personalities are involved.



Withholding the diploma for something like this would be rather extreme, don’t you think? I’m not in education and have happily had the privilege of students who don’t break rules (or otherwise don’t get caught/in trouble…let’s hope they just don’t break rules), so I don’t really have context for this personally.

Definitely agree that exercising caution is absolutely the correct course of action.