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London calling: Tharptown High School taking rocketry across pond

RUSSELLVILLE –  From nearly 1,000 to one. That’s the territory covered by the Tharptown High School rocketry team during nationals this year. But the team has been gaining ground lo these many years. 

The team has gone to the national finals six times since the program started in 2018, finally reaching the top in 2024. Tharptown won the annual American Rocketry Challenge in The Plains, Va.

(Tharptown High School/Facebook)

“I am so proud of these students,” the team’s coach and sponsor, Areanna Orozco, told the Franklin Times. “These kids put in so much work, it’s truly remarkable. I was surprised they won because of the sheer shock value, but I never doubted that they could do it.”

Tharptown has placed in the top 10 four times, including a second-place finish in 2023. 

Team members, with team roles in parentheses, are Kylee Beard (team captain and motor builder), Angie Chavez (parachutes), Shyla Martinez (payload), Angel Franco (launch setup and retrieval), Adrionna Ashley (team helper), Jessie Mitchell (launch setup and retrieval), Isabella Hall (flight sheets), and Frank Gutierrez (launch setup and retrieval).

Tharptown topped a field of 922 teams that entered the competition at the start of the year and the top 100 teams competing at National Finals designing, building and launching a model rocket.

Tharptown students earned the chance to represent the United States in the International Rocketry Challenge at the Farnborough Air Show, outside London, in July.

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