Carter, Rialto High Schools advance in MESA Science Competition

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Photos RUSD: Mikal Thompson, Rialto High School science teacher and MESA advisor, works with Brandon Aldana, junior, on a project during class recently. Aldana helped the Knights take first place in the Math Escape Challenge at the MESA Competition hosted by the University of California, Riverside. Overall, Rialto High School had an incredible seven first-place finishes at the competition.

The Knights and Lions are on fire — and not the kind that a fire department needs to assist with; these schools are thriving on academic excellence in science MESA Education.

On March 2, 2022, Carter High School and Rialto High Schools’ students competed in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Competition, where University of California, Riverside (UCR) professors and higher education experts judged the work of several high schools, including Carter and Rialto High School students.

On March 17, 2022, the MESA student winners were announced with many Knights and Lions earning first, second and third place in the competition.

Both Catherine Sanchez’s, Carter High School MESA Advisor and science teacher, and Mikal Thompson’s, Rialto High School MESA Advisor and science teacher, students ranked “very high” in the competition.

Rialto High School students who placed at the MESA Competition include: In the category of MESA Think Tank, First Place winners for ninth and tenth-grade students were: Melanie Luna and Steve Diaz. In the category of MESA Think Tank, First Place winners for juniors and seniors were: Isaac Lima and Javier Santiago. In the category of MESA Moon Base, Third Place winners for ninth and tenth-grade students were: Isaac Perez, Frederick Barraza and Luis Ochoa. In the category of Math Escape Challenge, First Place winners were: Alex Hernandez, Gilberto Beltran and Brandon Aldana. Second Place winners were: Andrew Turner, John Barreto. In the category of Cargo Glider for ninth and tenth-grade students, First Place winners were: Natalie Iraheta, Dalia Cabrera and Georgette Salazar. In the category of National Engineering Design Competition (NEDC): Technical Interview, First Place winners were: Giovanny Felix, Jasbeth Perez and Alissa Pivac. In the category of NEDC: Digital Poster Board, Second Place winners were: Giovanny Felix, Jasbeth Perez, Alissa Pivac. In the category of NEDC: Pitch Video, First Place winners were: Giovanny Felix, Jasbeth Perez, Alissa Pivac. In the category of NEDC: Overall, First Place winners were: Giovanny Felix, Jasbeth Perez, Alissa Pivac.

“It was a good competition,” said Thompson, who has taught for 18 years at Rialto High School and served as the advisor for Rialto High School’s exceptional MESA program for 17 years. “I know it’s tough to get students back into working on projects again, I’m proud of these students and their accomplishments and just for participating. I’m happy that they did so well in the event and we are looking forward to the Regional competition.”

The students on Carter High School’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) team work together during a recent competition. The Lions recently had an excellent performance at the MESA Competition hosted by the University of California, Riverside, placing in multiple categories.

“It was a team effort,” said Aldana, a Rialto High School junior who helped his team take first in the Math Escape Challenge. “I honestly thought we didn’t get a good time on the project. We took a bit of time on the first part and struggled a lot, but we worked together and got first place together. We talked to each other. We just tried everything. We all had different ideas so we tried each one of them to see which one worked.”  

Carter High School students who placed at the MESA Competition included: In the category of MESA Think Tank, Second Place winner for juniors and seniors were: Omar Castellon, Karla Fuentes and Alanna Gutierrez. In the category of MESA Moon Base Second Place winners for ninth and tenth-grade students were: Ana Hernandez and Aidan Lim. First Place winners for ninth and tenth-grade students were: Andrew Ly and Bryan Ortega and First Place winners for juniors and seniors were: Alan Ly and Cristobal Vazquez.

“Our students did exceptionally well in the MESA Competition,” stated Sanchez. “I am so proud of all the hard work all of my MESA students put in each and every day since we’ve come back from COVID. I know it has not been an easy year to come back to, but it was something we were all missing working together in person and competing again.”

Sanchez is a 26-year public education veteran educator, who began teaching at Carter High School four years ago. Sanchez also taught at Kolb Middle School as a MESA Advisor and Science Teacher.

Students who took first place in the competition advance to Southern California MESA Regional Competition at the University of California, Irvine, on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

“Irvine has some tough competition, but my students have a good, solid project,” Thompson said. “They know their project well. I think they have a good chance.”

Sanchez informed the District that Carter High School students dominated in the category of CODING SOLUTION (using Python). First Place winners were: students Alan Ly and Cristobal Vazquez, Second Place winner was Jonathan Arevalo and Third Place winners were Isabelle Lepe and Julio Rivera.

“Mesa as a whole has inspired me to be a better person,” replied Vazquez, senior at Carter High School. “This year’s events were vastly different from previous years and offered brand new challenges to overcome. I honestly was nervous to compete, but overall I was very excited to see the results of my hard work. The MESA class and Ms. Sanchez force you to obtain time management skills, use prior knowledge to solve problems and develop a strong work ethic. I have always valued the opportunity to work with my peers and create innovative projects.”

The Crime Scene Investigation Competition was held on March 8, 2022, at Carter High School. Additionally, for the juniors and seniors, First Place awards went to students Alanna Gutierrez and Karla Fuentes, the Second Place winners for juniors and seniors were Sacred Moseley and Bryan Ortega. The ninth and tenth-grade students who earned First Place were Italy Lepe, Alena Driscoll, and David Naranjo. Ninth and tenth-grade students who earned Second Place were Tristan Park, Eryka Blanco, Rachel Montanez, and Madison Inzunza.

“I was happy that I participated in the MESA Competition,” replied Fuentes, a junior at Carter High School, who impressively earned both a second and first place honor in different categories. “I enjoyed the competition, along with my classmates. We wanted to make our teacher proud. A teacher can make a difference for their students and Ms. Sanchez was there throughout the competition for us.”