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South Western TSA students rank high in nationals

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch
  • All ten South Western students that attended the national TSA competition in Orlando placed in the top 10.
  • South Western has added an extra TSA position to continue the program's success.

South Western’s Technical Student Association program took another victory lap during its trip to TSA’s national competition late last month.

From left: Mark Weiss, Jamie Graham and Daphne Weiss placed in the top ten the Chapter Team Written category at the national TSA conference in Orlando, Florida in late June.


The school district sent 10 intermediate and high school students to the 2017 conference in Orlando, Florida, to compete with more than 8,000 students from 45 states and several countries. The competitions test students on a range of science-, technology-, engineering- and mathematics-related subjects, from electrical engineering to video production and extemporaneous speech.

All of them were semifinalists in at least one competition, and several students reached the top 10, according to South Western TSA adviser Melissa Wilson.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said of the group’s performance.

The highest-placing student was Liam Hower, an incoming freshman at South Western High School who reached second place nationally in an electrical applications competition.

Other students placed in two categories. Incoming eighth-grader Evan Grove placed fifth in digital photography and ninth in prepared speech, while senior Mark Weiss was third in the future technology teacher category and sixth in extemporaneous speech.

Several South Western students placed in the top 10 in organizational competitions, including Chapter Team Written, which compares student’s leadership skills in running a meeting according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Incoming senior James Graham placed sixth, while in their final TSA competitions as seniors, twins Mark and Daphne Weiss placed in eighth and ninth place, respectively.

A group of students landed as finalists in the On Demand competition, which involves creating a video that is produced during the conference. The group was Justin Hartman, Tori Keefauver, Hunter Conrad, Aiza Siddiqui and Daphne Weiss, earning 10th place in the category.

Jonah Proepper, an incoming sophomore, placed 9th nationally in the STEM Careers category.

Wilson attributed the students' performance to middle school advisers Jana Bonds and Thomas Nikolaus, who she says groomed the students for success at the high school level.

“It allows me to be much more hands off with them because they know what they’re doing,” she said.

In April, Wilson said incoming high school TSA students had “big shoes to fill” from some of the students who graduated this past year, including the Weiss twins.

South Western TSA program competing for success

However, Wilson said the only two requirements to succeed in TSA are a curious mind and a strong work ethic.

“What we always tell them is that this is not like (other) clubs,” she said. “They’re going to have to put work in ahead of time (in order to) succeed.”

During a recent school board meeting, South Western Superintendent Barbara Rupp praised the the students' "truly amazing" performance.

She added it bodes well for their future success, as well as the success of the district.

“Our TSA kids have put us on the national map, so it’s outstanding for us and for their future prospects,” Rupp said.

For the upcoming school year, South Western has added another high school adviser to TSA to continue and improve upon the group’s success, according to Wilson.

This article has been updated to reflect the correct grade of student James Graham, who is an incoming senior at South Western High School.