South Orangetown Central School District

SO BOTZ presenting to the Board of Education, April 2024

The Board of Education and District leaders wished Tappan Zee High School’s FIRST Robotics Championship team, SO BOTZ, the best of luck at the 2024 World Championship following a team presentation at last night’s Board meeting.

It has been a momentous season for the team, which was a finalist at both the Hudson Valley and Tech Valley regional competitions and earned its way to the World Championship in Houston (April 17-20) by winning the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Finger Lakes Regional last month.

FRC 2024 Dean's List Finalist Calum T.

In addition to these team achievements, Project Manager in Training and Build Lead Calum Tjon, a junior, was named a Dean’s List Finalist at Tech Valley. This highly competitive award recognizes student leaders who have led their teams and communities to increased awareness for FIRST and its mission while achieving personal technical expertise and accomplishment.

“Calum calmly embraces new challenges and methodically creates solutions. As a result of his persistence, determination and dedication, the autonomous code he wrote helped propel our team to high-ranking points in competitions,” said SO BOTZ Advisor and Computer Science teacher Karen Connell. “As a drive team operator, Calum saw the need for more flexibility and a way to orient while driving. He researched, built code, tested, and iterated versions of the swerve drive train code. As a result, our robot can move much faster and orientate, providing a more efficient and competitive robot. Calum serves as a role model through his commitment, enthusiasm for learning, innovativeness and self-starter attributes. Team members respect him because he listens, promotes growth and inspires others with his strong work ethic.”

This is the third time in its seven-year history that SO BOTZ has won its way to the World Championship and the third year the team has fielded a Dean’s List Finalist.

“Unbelievable presentation! This team didn’t exist a decade ago and it is incredible what it has grown into,” said Superintendent of Schools Brian Culot, Ed.D.

Board members expressed their pride in the team’s accomplishments. “I would just like to give thanks to those before us on the Board and the previous team members who have helped to build this team. Having seen you perform at the Hudson Valley Regional, it’s really amazing to see the teamwork. It’s not only about the robot, it’s so much more. You are a great example for the younger students growing up in our District.”

The team is participating in one more outreach event before heading to Texas: Find them at the Tri-State Engineering Expo this Sunday (

Congratulations and good luck to SO BOTZ! Follow Team 6911’s performance in Houston via the livestream at