GREENHILL— For the first time, Rogers High School's rocketry team is headed to the national finals in the Team America Rocketry Challenge next month in The Plains, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.

The competition has 830 teams from across the country that are tasked with designing, building and launching model rockets to meet the most specific of guidelines. Rogers High School, along with five other teams from Alabama qualified. Only 100 teams across the country made the cut.

"This is impressive because the whole event is student led," said Alex Toll, one of two science teachers at Rogers who sponsors the team along with Aron Henry. "TARC is one of the largest STEM competitions in the country and allows the students to learn basic engineering and design skills."

Five of Alabama's six qualifying programs are from north Alabama and qualified during the UNA Rocketry Competition this spring.

Cullman Area Technology Academy, Tharptown High School and Russellville High School, with its two teams, also made the top 100.

At the national competition, teams in the top 10 will receive scholarships with the top team getting $20,000.

Lee Brownell, an AMSTI middle school science specialist at UNA said this year's goal is for all five teams from north Alabama to place in the top 25%. 

The students will attend Rockets on the Hill at the nation's capitol, meeting their local congressmen, the day before the event. A reception for the students will follow.

The students are currently fundraising for their trip. To assist with donations towards those efforts call Brownell at 256-765-6907.

Toll said there is a total of $100,000 in scholarship money and prizes at stake. Also, the winner receives a trip to the Paris Air Show in June. 

"Our students are so thrilled to have this opportunity," Toll said. "We have 10 students going and it really is wonderful.

They're working hard now practicing their launches. They've worked so hard and I just pretty much stay out of their way. They're a great group of kids."

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