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franklin county times

PC Elite perseveres, rises to challenge

Jonathan Grimes holds PC Elite's award in one hand and the crushed rocket in the other while recapping the weekend's events to his Rocket and Robotics class at PCHS.
Jonathan Grimes holds PC Elite’s award in one hand and the crushed rocket in the other while recapping the weekend’s events to his Rocket and Robotics class at PCHS.

By Nicole Burns

For the FCT

Sometimes the best lesson someone can teach children is to not give up – even when the project they’ve worked on so hard on goes down in flames. That was pretty much the situation for PC Elite, Phil Campbell High School’s rocketry team.

Last weekend, the team didn’t fare too well in the UNA Rocketry Challenge because the team showed up without a rocket. “We could do our TARC qualification, but we weren’t prepared,” said PC Elite sponsor Jonathan Grimes. “We had crashed our rocket the day before.”

“We went to the field for a practice fly,” said PCHS 8th grader Ben Williams. “The ejection charge was not fixed the way it should have been, so it went up, but the parachute never popped out, and so it came down and blew up when it hit the ground.”

The students said they walked into the competition feeling embarrassed because they didn’t have a rocket to show, but in an uplifting turn of events, they found help from an unlikely source. “Members of the Russellville team helped us build a rocket at the competition that day,” said Grimes.

Russellville’s Andrew Heath stepped in to help PCHS team members build and launch a rocket during the competition. “He taught us a lot,” said Williams. “It was fun getting to know Andrew and learning some new things. He taught us a lot about getting the fins on right and how to make the body tubes right. It was so helpful.”

“That’s why we got the award – because we didn’t have a rocket, but we showed up that day. We made sure that we launched that day,” said Grimes. The PC Elite might not have placed, but they came home with the Apollo 13 award for their perseverance through such hardship to get a rocket off the ground.

The rocketry season is far from over for the PC Elite. “We’ve got to get our TARC qualifying runs in by the end of this weekend,” said Williams. “We need to build a rocket this week, get it right, and qualify.”

Grimes said there’s a bigger lesson in this than just getting the rocket qualified. “Giving up is not an option for us,” said Grimes. “We’re going to get it one way or another. We’re not giving up on nationals either.”

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