BEAVERTON — Thanks to the Bayless family and their son, the robotics team at St. Cecilia School was established this year. A few years ago while at a Jesuit High School alumni game, Bryan Bayless and his son Evan interacted with the Jesuit robotics team, who had a T-shirt-shooting robot. Evan had many questions, and the high schoolers encouraged him to try the robot.

Erika Bayless saw the excitement in her son and began speaking with people in the community who had robotics experience. The advice given by many was that it was best to start with the First Lego League program. FLL is not just about programming robots; there is an emphasis on teamwork and core values to apply in meetings and at the competition. 

St. Cecilia School has a strong technology program, and after a survey circulated around the school, there was a great deal of interest in a robotics program. The Bayless family provided the research and the school provided the support and space. Staff member Wendy Casale helped navigate and coach the team. Dan Calkins from Jesuit provided supplies, advice and students to assist at meetings. 

In this first year, two teams were created: one junior team with the fourth graders and one with fifth-eighth graders. The students learned about programming, building, problem-solving and teamwork. “The best part of the program is the collaboration with parents, schools, students and other robotic teams that encouraged innovation,” according to school leaders.

The core values of FLL are closely aligned with St. Cecilia School’s mission and philosophy. The students and parents agreed with the importance of inclusion to work together and recognize how people deal with problems differently.

“The students worked hard as a team and also shared ideas and resources to make the community stronger — mimicking the school community,” school leaders said.