Tech team 'trifecta' preparing for nationals

LHS took the top three in Prepared Presentation events last month, with freshman Payton Schaap ranked first followed by teammates Ejehi Ihionkhan (freshman), and Stephanie Guck (sophomore).

Statewide, 24 finalists gave five-minute speeches to judges, with only three advancing to Nationals — and for the first time those three were all Lobos.

Payton is the daughter of Whitney and Troy Schaap, Ejehi is the daughter of Akhuini and Chris Ihionkhan, and Stephanie Guck is the daughter of Theresa and Stephen Guck.

TSA parent sponsor Whitney Schaap said Prepared Presentation is a category that typically takes years to advance in.

"You have to acquire speaking as well as storytelling skills," she said. "You follow National TSA’s annual prompt and put in hours upon hours of practice to even hope for a place, much less one of the top 3 spots to advance."

One of the greatest challenges of TSA competition, Schaap said, is missing days of class, "working hard to catch up in class and still keeping grades high while being extremely prepared for your chosen area of competition."

"All three young ladies have brothers that have been or are currently upperclassmen of TSA," she said. "So they have witnessed the dedication, time and sweat it takes to win; and boy did they ever win!"

Other national qualifiers include seniors Uwa Ihionkhan, Krisana Yuen, Trevor O'Connor, and Soumya Donty; juniors Rutvi Patel, Lucy Castillo, Chris Guck, Neal Rangu, Naomi D'Arbell, Daniele Farren, Jason Randall, Daniel Bally, and Aaron Brown; sophomores Levi Grant and Justin Melendez; freshmen Brady Miller, Samantha Taylor, Kathryn Roper, Surya Donty, Ben Taylor, Sam Pistone, and Nitin Rangu.

The Technology Student Association fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The program is run under the supervision and guidance of LHS Career Technology instructor Charles Mosley, who said he was delighted with the results and looks forward to the national meet June 28 to July 2 in Nashville, Tennessee.

LHS Principal James Brewer said the dedication of mentors like Mosley, the support of all the TSA parents, and the students' commitment to excellence continues to bear fruit.

"We've not had an unsuccessful year since we started participating in this program (at LHS)," he said. "That's a testament to the great work of Mr. Mosley in leading this program, as well as our parents and students making it happen."

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said the overall performance of the entire team was impressive, especially since so many are underclassmen.

"Our seniors doing well is no surprise, they are experienced, hard-working, and have been excelling in this competition for some time," he said. "With how well our underclassmen are doing — especially our sophomores and freshmen — it's safe to say (the TSA program) is going to continue to excel." 
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