The Greenpower Team from Mill Creek Elementary School won the National Greenpower Championship in this STEM-related experience. CONTRIBUTED

Mill Creek Greenpower Team wins national title

MADISON – First, they organized this school year. Next, they built a car and aced area and regional contests. At the first of May, the Greenpower Racing Team from Mill Creek Elementary School won the national title.

In fact, Mill Creek Greenpower Racing Teams had never entered a competition until Jan. 19 when they claimed first place overall at the Choccolocco Green Prix Race in Oxford.

For entrants from the elementary level or ‘Goblin’ division, a national ranking is determined by totaling a team’s top three scores for the season. Teams are ranked according to their overall scores from those top three races. Older students who drive F-24 cars competed at Talladega Superspeedway.

Greenpower is a premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM program that provides students in grades 4-12 with a hands-on, project-based learning experience. Greenpower sessions engage students academically and build critical employability skills, according to Jacqueline K. Smith. A National Board Certified Teacher, Smith sponsors Greenpower and works as Mill Creek’s fifth-grade STEM teacher.

All Mill Creek’s Greenpower students were drivers, except as noted:

* Fourth-graders — Savannah Barnard, Tyler Barnard, Harrison Bock, Austin Brown, Peter Gosier, Jaiden Lawrence and Pit Crew member Jack Nivens.

* Fifth-graders — Clark Asher, Eli Brown, Sophia Brown, Devansh Goyal, publicist/photographer Lillian McFadden, Evelyn Mustell and Julius Whitehorn.

This year, Mill Creek competed against strong teams, including Allen, Phenix City, John F. Kennedy and Ben Bright elementary schools. “Alabama, Georgia and Texas have some of the fastest teams in the nation,” Smith said.

“My kids were so excited,” realizing their national win, Smith said. “When the season started, we never imagined that we would end up winning the national championship. Our kids just took it one race at a time and did their very best every time they got on the track.”

The Mill Creek team will receive a trophy from Greenpower for winning the national title. Laura Barnard from Sweet Tea Communications also donated a National Championship banner to commemorate their win.

“I would like to thank all of our awesome parent volunteers for their support this season,” Smith said. “Our parents helped out during practice and transported our cars back and forth to the races. We could not have succeeded this year without their support.”

Mill Creek’s car was sponsored in part by a grant from STEDTRAIN.

“Greenpower’s benefits go far beyond the track,” Smith said. “My kids have learned that hard work and practice really do pay off. They have learned to work together as a team and to respect each other’s opinions.”

“This program has given students who struggle in the classroom the opportunity to step up and be leaders on the track. I’m also very proud of my team for showing good sportsmanship throughout the season,” Smith said.

A Dale Earnhardt fan back in the day, Smith loved going to car shows. “Greenpower racing was an easy fit for me as an educator. I also love giving my kids the learning opportunities that go along with this program.”

“How many nine- and 10-year-old kids get to go to school and drive a race car? How cool is that?” Smith said. “This was my Greenpower ‘Dream Team.’ They are the best kids ever!” Smith said.

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