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American Canyon schools win top honors in robotics competition

American Canyon schools win top honors in robotics competition


For the seventh year in a row, Napa Valley Unified School District students traveled to UC Davis to participate in its annual robotics competition -- RoboPlay 2019. 

For the sixth year in a row, American Canyon Middle and American Canyon High schools earned top honors, taking 17 statewide awards, including one first-place award and another 8 regional awards, including three first-place regional awards.

Each year, the number of teams and schools attending from NVUSD has increased. This year, 126 students on 28 teams from American Canyon Middle School, American Canyon High School, Canyon Oaks Elementary, Redwood Middle School, Vintage High School, and Valley Oak High School competed.

While they didn’t win any awards, students new to robotics from Valley Oak Continuation High School, Vintage High School, and Redwood Middle School worked hard to complete the challenging robotics tasks, with one team from Redwood almost placing in the top tier in their division.

“The number of students participating in this competition has grown every year and their performance has improved every year, too,” said Mary Ann Valles, assistant superintendent for Instructional Services of the Napa Valley Unified School District.

“This competition gives students the chance to display their problem solving, math, and coding skills timed against the clock. It isn’t easy and it takes grit. In particular, the American Canyon schools have really risen to the challenge and they have positioned NVUSD as one of the top robotics districts in the state. ”

The computers, robots and teacher training were all sponsored by NapaLearns, which has invested more than $250,000 into the program. NapaLearns also underwrites the costs for the students to attend the competition.

Trinchero Family Estates donated $1 million last year to support the robotics program for four years.

“Through this robotics program, I have won several awards at the Roboplay C-STEM competitions, been on teams that ranked number one in the state and region, and have discovered the major I am planning to pursue in college,” said Justin Chang, a senior at American Canyon High School. 

“This is the second year of a three-year commitment to put the C-STEM curriculum into Napa Valley Unified School District schools,” said Peg Maddocks, executive director of NapaLearns. “Many jobs depend on computers, programming, perseverance, and teamwork. These students will need those skills in the future and they will be prepared.”

Here is the complete list of awards won by American Canyon schools:

American Canyon Middle School

Statewide Middle School Award of Achievement

● Kiana Leigh Garcia

Statewide MS Girl's Leadership Award

● Aminah Hilliard

Statewide Junior Division RoboPlay Video Winners

● Best Storytelling - Botman: The Dark Bot Returns

● Best Choreography - Dancing Queen

● Most Interesting Task - World of Bots

Regional Division C (7th/8th Grade) RoboPlay Robotics

● 1st Place Regional - PUG BOTS

● 2nd Place Statewide - PUG BOTS

● 3rd Place Regional -

Regional RoboPlay Robotics MS Perseverance Award


American Canyon High School

Statewide High School Award of Excellence

● Colin Velicaria

Statewide High School C-STEM Scholarship

● Katrina Cole

● Malaysia Hilliard

Statewide HS Girl’s Leadership Award

● Taylor Buono

Statewide Senior Division RoboPlay Video Winners

● Best Theme: Barobo 500

● Best Choreography: Walking Around the Christmas Tree

● Best Computational Thinking: Dreams of No

Regional Division A (Math 3+) RoboPlay Robotics

● 1st Place Regional - Hui Xiong, Bu Yao Shuo

● 3rd Place Statewide - Hui Xiong, Bu Yao Shuo

Statewide Division B (Math 1-2) RoboPlay Robotics

● 1st Place Regional - Team Alpha

● 1st Place Statewide - Team Alpha

● 2nd Place Regional - Ms. Williams Rocks!

● 3rd Place Statewide - Ms. Williams Rocks!

● 3rd Place Regional--Pro-Grammers

Regional RoboPlay Robotics HS Spirit Award

● Vu - Girls

Regional RoboPlay Robotics HS Teamwork Award

● Vu - 7th Period

About NapaLearns

NapaLearns is a nonprofit with a bold mission – to equip every student in Napa County with the skills they need to thrive in college, careers and their community. NapaLearns has invested millions of dollars in innovative public education programs that improve graduation rates, boost academic achievement and ensure that students have the skills to compete in the workforce of tomorrow. Learn more at


Photo captions:

Prior awards to American Canyon schools -- listed for information purposes only

2013-14: Malaysia Hillard wins Girls Leadership Award

ACMS wins 2nd & 3rd place in MS category

2014-15: ACMS came in 1st and won statewide

ACHS came in 1st and 2nd overall statewide

2015-16: ACHS, 1st place & 2nd place RoboPlay challenge

ACHS Teamwork Award

ACMS, 3rd place RoboPlay challenge

2016-17: ACMS & ACHS participate (


ACMS: Statewide MS Award of Achievement

Statewide Girl’s Leadership award

Statewide Junior Division Roboplay video

Statewide HS Award of Excellence

65 students, 13 teams; total of 80 students from NVUSD, including Redwood MS and VOHS; 2 elementary schools earned 20 out of 46 awards

Students from Napa Valley Unified at the UC Davis 2019 Roboplay Competition

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.

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