Haili Christian School Robotics Team At The 2023 VEX IQ Robotics Championship

In April, Hilo’s Haili Christian School Robotics Team flew to Dallas, Texas to compete in the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championships. Although VEX assigned team number 10161 to them, teacher Jodi Kalawe calls their team Akamai Ma’alahi which means “simply genius.”

The team was divided into two teams with Team A’s middle schoolers Makayla Salmo, Noah Lorenzo and Madison Williams and Team B’s elementary students Gianna Larson and Taylor Pedro.

“Team A is ranked 370th in the world for skills out of 710 teams. They ranked 59th in the Innovate division out of 80 teams. Team B is ranked 317th in the world out of 694 teams. They ranked 25th in the Engineering division out of 80 teams,” Kalawe said.

To prepare for the championship, Kalawe shared that the children were balancing schoolwork and their robotics assignments every single day after school.

“Dedication and commitment were key factors in the success of both teams,” she said. “Students and coaches sacrificed many hours of planning, engineering, strategizing and team building.”

The event left a positive mark on the students. Kalawe said it widened their horizons. Aside from applying their robotics knowledge, the kids learned the importance of communication as they teamed up with different teams from China, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam.

When asked about their strengths as a team, Kalawe said: “First and foremost, it is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our teams prayed before and after every competition and gave thanks to the Lord for all the many blessings and opportunities they were given. Both teams persevered through obstacles with great character and attitude.”

Elementary and Middle School delegates from the Big Island for the VEX World Championships. Photo taken at Texas Roadhouse during a dinner get-together.

Gianna Larson and Taylor Pedro of Team B from Haili Christian School in Hilo, Hawaii.

Team Akamai Ma’alahi with coach Kumu Alicia Hui.

Vex Robotics Worlds Championship at Katie Bailey Hutchison Stadium in Dallas, Texas last April 27-May 5, 2023.

The Akamai Ma’alahi team with teammates from China.

Spreading the Aloha spirit with #TeamHawaii at Medieval Times, Dallas Texas.

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