A number of controversial, race-related incidents are occurring in elementary, middle and high schools across the country, and this one adds to that list.
Following their win at a citywide robotics competition in Indianapolis, a group of children were harassed by other children and their parents, with some of the kids even being told to “Go back to Mexico.”
In a report from USA Today the Pleasant Run PantherBots, which is made up of two black students and three latinx students (Elijah Goodwin, 10; Angel Herrera-Sanchez, 9; Jose Verastegui, 10; Manuel Mendez, 9; and Devilyn Bolyard, 9) from Pleasant Run Elementary, were verbally attacked during and after the competition, which the PantherBots ended up winning.
“They were pointing at us and saying that ‘Oh my God, they are champions of the city all because they are Mexican. They are Mexican, and they are ruining our country,'” Diocelina Herrera, the mother of PantherBot team member Angel Herrera-Sanchez, said.
However, the team of nine and 10-year-olds went on to win the robotics challenge, competing against nearly 35 other schools.
“I was afraid they would let [the comments] get in their heads and wig them out,” Lisa Hopper, the coach for the PantherBot team, said. “We sat down and talked to our kids, and obviously we let them share their feelings.”
“They were on top of it already,” Hopper added. “They said: ‘We know they are mean. We know they were jealous. We’re not going to let it bother us.’ One of our guys said ‘to take stuff like that and let it make you stronger.'”
Following the incident the team went on to achieve another accomplishment. They ended up competing at the state championships, where they won the Create Award for best robot design and engineering.
The win also qualified the team for the Vex IQ World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, where they will compete there with students from all over the world.