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Blast-off to London

Creekview HS rocket team will represent United States in international competition

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Creekview High School’s winning rocket hurtles toward the clouds at the national rocketry competition held in The Plains, Va., last month.



High in the summer sky above the Farnborough Airshow — 825 feet to be exact — Creekview High School’s prized rocket, bearing two raw eggs as payload, will attempt to take home the international crown in rocketry at the world’s largest airshow.

Creekview High School’s Aeronautics Team won the National Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) this spring, using the rocket constructed from contents of an old cardboard box in club sponsor Todd Sharrock’s classroom with the label “Todd’s Bookshelf.” Now, the five members of the winning team, along with their sponsors, will travel to London, England, as the guests of the Raytheon Company, to represent the United States against the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Creekview Principal Dr. Adrian Thomason will accompany the team. 

The team, said Amanda Semler, a recent 2014 grad and team captain, calls itself “Todd’s Bookshelf,” as they have been using the contents of the box filled with rocketry supplies in order to build their inventions. Winning team members are Amanda, Austin Bralick, Nick Dimos, Bailey Robertson and Andrew White. Sponsors are Sharrock, Tim Smyrl and Reinhardt University intern Stephen Vosika.

At the national championship at the Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., the team outscored 712 teams made up of more than 5,000 students from across the country.  TARC is the world’s largest student rocket contest; teams design and build a model rocket that can travel to exactly 825 feet and back within 48-50 seconds while carrying two raw eggs that must return safely to the ground undamaged.

“It was the second-highest score in history,” Sharrock said. The lucky rocket is painted to represent Georgia, as well as Creekview, by Amanda, who is attending Savannah College of Art and Design in the fall.

She explained that during the national competition, the team had two different designs, but decided to go with the more standard one. Every practice blast-off, they changed one thing until they found the combination that worked the best.

“After that we didn’t change it at all,” she said. 

A second Creekview High team, led by student captain Josh Whitley placed 49th, so both of the school’s teams placed in the Top 50.

This was the fifth time a Creekview HS team competed at the national finals.  The Aeronautics Team program at Creekview HS began in 2008 under the direction of Smyrl and Sharrock, both science faculty members at the school.  The team, which is made up of 36 students, also benefits greatly from sponsorship and the use of facilities operated by the Georgia Model Aviators.

Sharrock said the team will travel overseas July 15 — all expenses will be paid for by the Raytheon Company, who will even give the students spending money and plan tours for them while they are there — they are planning to visit Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge and Harrods, as well as tour London and ride the London Eye.

“Every major aerospace vendor will be at the show, and we will have VIP passes,” Sharrock said. 

Sharrock explained that trial and error is a tool that his rocket teams use to design a winning rocket.

“It’s a STEM initiative,” he explained. “They keep track of lots of data and note what works and what doesn’t.”

The rocket’s flight is scored on how long it flies and the exact altitude it reaches.

“Time is critical and a point is taken off for every foot higher or lower than 825 feet,” Sharrock explained. “It’s a student-led program, and they have to build the rocket.”

He said when designing the rockets, the teams chart temperature, humidity, windspeed, time of day and the weight of the rocket. 

“With their data, they go back to the drawing board,” he said. “In England, they only get one shot.”

Sharrock said that the pressure is on, since the U.S. is defending its international title. 

Creekview High School Aeronautics Team members, who participate in several school teams  in interscholastic competitions, are: Miranda Bourdeau, Ryan Bowman, Austin Bralick, Zach Chester, Nick Dimos, Cody Edwards, Rafael Escamilla, Bryan Garriques, Dakota Gravley, Walter Grogan, Jesse Halverson, Michael Hoffman, Maddie Holman, Chris Hoover, Parker McMahan, Lee Marble, Brady Neilson, Joey Nelson, Nathan Olivares, Dalton Parrott, Bailey Robertson, Christian Schaefer, Amanda Semler, Jacob Sokolove, Jeremiah Stewart, Josh Terry, Liam Vincent, Emma Vosika, David Wang and Josh Whitley.

Sharrock said the team is attempting to raise money so that some of the parents can go along on the trip to England, as well. For more information on the fundraising effort, or to contribute, contact him at

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Creekview High School’s winning rocket hurtles toward the clouds at the national rocketry competition held in The Plains, Va., last month.