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John Fierro Kansas City Notable Latino

KCPS is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month featuring notable Latino community members who have made a difference in the city and/or the nation. Today, we honor John Fierro, President/CEO of Mattie Rhodes Center and a long-time public figure in Kansas City.

a photo of a woman with short hair in a tan suit.

KCPS is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with profiles of Latinos who have made a difference in our community. Today, we remember Yvonne Vazquez Rangel, an education advocate who lobbied for access to bilingual education. 

A woman with short hair and a serene expression.

KCPS is continuing our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with a spotlight on Rebecca Jaramillo, an advocate for equal rights and a founder of Fiesta Hispana, one of the first celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month in Kansas City.

Local Kansas City Hero Primitivo Garcia

Primitivo Garcia is often referred to as Kansas City's first local Hispanic hero. One KCPS elementary school is named after this hero after he gave his life to save his English teacher in 1967.

Central High School Robotics Team Excels in FIRST Season

A group of teenagers stands around a robot holding two playground balls.

The Central High School robotics team competed in the the FIRST Championship - Hopper Division in Houston, Texas, last month. Front row, from left: Princess Awulonu, 11; 'The Iron Claw' robot; and Malachi Williams Lindsey, 9. Back row: Mr. Coi Bui, coach; Mr. Brian Turner, mentor; Nura Abdi, 11;  Christofer Fuentes Sanchez, 11; Ericka Mabion, KCPS CTE Coordinator; Isiah Willis, 9; John Gooden, 11; and Johnathan Prock, coach.

“The Iron Claw,” Central High School’s robot, reaches a metal arm toward the overhead bar. Clang. There’s an intake of breath, but these students know what they’re doing. The robot reaches for the second bar. Clang. The Iron Claw swings forward, suspended in mid-air. 

Malachi Williams Lindsey is one of two freshman drivers who control the Hunting Eagles’ robot. The first time he made the robot climb was nerve-racking. 

“We’d never done it before, but at the same time, I knew we could do it,” Malachi said. “I was excited. I try to be the best at everything I do.” 

A young Black woman repairs a robot. She is wearing safety glasses and using tools.

Junior Princess Awulonu is the team’s engineer. She makes frequent repairs to ‘The Iron Claw’ when it is damaged in competition. 

It’s that attitude that has carried Malachi and his teammates through this year’s First Robotics Competition season — their first. 

“FRC was a big step for us because we had been doing competitions with a smaller robot,” Coach Coi Bui said. “To watch them start three weeks late and get to this point? It’s amazing. They qualified for worlds with only one regional.” 

The Central team received the highest rookie seed and the Rookie All Star Award at the Heartland Regional in March. They were able to qualify for the FIRST Championship - Hopper Division, which was held April 20-23, 2022, in Houston, Texas. 

Junior Nura Abdi is the team’s ambassador. Though her role is less technical than engineer, programmer or driver, it’s an important part of FIRST competitions. 

“What I do is go around to other teams and ask them questions: safety captain questions, technician questions, engineering questions and questions about their robot,” Nura said. 

Nuri also helps promote robotics on social media and at Central High School. She even designed the team’s t-shirts. 

Two young men in safety goggles watch a robot. The photo is taken behind a barrier on the competition floor.

Coaches say attending nationals in their first year of competition was a 'once-in-a-lifetime' chance for the six students on the Central High School Robotics Team.

Brian Turner provides technical mentoring for the Hunting Eagles. He has been working with local robotics teams since his son was a student Park Hill High School, helping young people develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.  

Just as important, though, are the life skills robotics teaches. 

“Team sports are how most of our kids get experience working with a team. Kids who aren’t athletic don’t always get those opportunities at the high school level,” Turner said. “But through robotics, they can discover how much more powerful they are as a team than as individuals.” 

Interested in sponsoring the Central High School Hunting Eagles or another KCPS robotics team? Contact Ericka Mabion, KCPS CTE Coordinator.