Robotics Team Raises Funds And Honors Mentors 

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From left: Ryan Motchkavitz, vice president; Ally Mittler, copresident; Jonathan Perlman, copresident; John Motchkavitz; and Michael Passuello
From left: Ryan Motchkavitz, vice president; Ally Mittler, copresident; Jonathan Perlman, copresident; John Motchkavitz; and Michael Passuello

The Great Neck South High School Robotics Team held a fundraiser at the Inn of Great Neck earlier this year. Cosponsored by the Great Neck Rotary Club and the Inn at Great Neck, the event raised more than $4,500 that will be used to subsidize fees to local and regional robotics competitions. The Great Neck South High Robotics Team 2638, which calls itself Rebellion, researches, designs and constructs robots.

Rebellion used the fundraising event to present Hometown Hero awards to three people associated with the school and the robotics program who have made a difference in the world. Robotics Team officers Ally Mittler and Jonathan Perlman, copresidents, and Ryan Motchkavitz, vice president, acknowledged three people who saved the lives of two men last fall.

The awards were presented to South High teachers and Robotic Team mentors John Motchkavitz and Michael Passuello, as well as David Gurfein, who was unable to attend the event. The three men were driving home on the Palisades Parkway in Alpine, NJ, one evening in October when they noticed a car on fire. Arriving at the scene, they heard cries for help and discovered two young men near the car, one of whom was on fire. They moved the victims away from the car, saving their lives.

John Motchkavitz, the department chair of business and technology at South High, is a 31-year volunteer firefighter with the Great Neck Alert Fire Company and a graduate of Great Neck North High. Passuello is a resident of Sea Cliff, a business and technology teacher at South High and a former Hofstra football player. Gurfein is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps and a graduate of Great Neck South, who is currently running for the United States Congress in the Fourth Congressional District of New York.

The Robotics team made the Hometown Hero awards using a 3-D printer. They also presented each of the men with a special certificate, thanking them for their heroic actions and lifesaving efforts.

More than 100 people attended the fundraising event, including past and present students, parents, teachers, school administrators and members of the local business community.

The Robotics Team was established in September 2007 and has been very successful, qualifying for the World Championship six out of nine years. They won the Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety Award at the 2013 Championship. Team 2638 recently competed at both the Finger Lakes Regional in Rochester and the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Hofstra University. They were winners of the Chairman’s Award and the Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety Award and qualified for the World Championships, being held this week (April 27–30) in St. Louis.

Participation in Robotics provides an excellent forum to develop critical life skills, such as problem-solving, leadership and effective communication, and integrates mechanical, electrical, electronics, control engineering, computer science, pneumatics, technology, math and science. Members of the community volunteer as mentors to educate team members and teach new skills that help increase personal and technical awareness.

To read about the rescue, click here.

To read about the robotics team recent win, click here.

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Sara Rietbroek is with the Great Neck Police Activity League and a writer for Great Neck Record.

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