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Accompanied by an escort from the Halifax County Sheriff's Office, a trio of SUVs carrying members of the Halifax County High School Team 997 known as the Cometbots, arrives at Halifax County High School Sunday night from its trip to Detroit, Michigan to compete in the FIRST Robotics World Championship.

It was home sweet home Sunday night for the Cometbots, and what a welcome they did receive when they got to the county line all the way to their arrival at the Halifax County High School parking lot.

Well-wishers from the community joined Halifax County school officials cheering loudly as a caravan of SUVs carrying student members and coaches of Team 977, known as the Halifax County High School FIRST Robotics Competition Team, received an escort from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

Team 977 had completed a successful run in the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Detroit, Michigan, a competition that included over 400 teams representing 25 states and 45 countries.

“I’m really pleased to see the support that has come around us,” said Joseph Barron, the drive captain of the Cometbots team. “We know the community (support) has been there, but it hasn’t always felt like a whole group effort. But, coming home and seeing this brought it all together.”

Barron said the experience of competing in the world championship is a special one.

“I don’t think I will ever really be able to experience anything like it, at least not anytime soon,” Barron remarked. “It was so amazing to see all of those different teams and all of the different people from all over the country and the world and know that we had been able to match their level. We did it.”

Barron noted that Team 977 was very competitive, but there were some teams that had an edge.

“There were definitely some teams that were in a different class from everybody else, but we weren’t the worst ones there,” Barron explained. “We may not have been the best, but we performed our hardest, and we were happy with our results.”

Adam Reeves, the Team 977 coach, said the warm welcome from the community was special.

“I am very impressed and surprised by the amount of support that we have received from the community,” said Reeves. “We found out we were invited to the world championship basically a week-and-a-half before we had to go. The amount of support with donations and sponsorships and the support from the community is just amazing. This welcome is the icing on the cake.”

Reeves said he is very proud of the performance of the students during the world championship competition.

“This was a great experience for them,” Reeves said. “They got to see a lot of teams from around the world, and I think they learned a lot. We held our own despite being a relatively inexperienced team as compared to a lot of the other teams that were there. It was all-around a great experience.”

Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said he is very proud of Reeves and the students who comprise Team 977.

“To get to go to Detroit and compete in the world championship is a special thing,” Lineburg said. “Getting there (to the world championship) is absolutely quite an accomplishment. I’m not sure how many schools across the commonwealth went, but I would just think a handful.”

The school superintendent said he is very appreciative of the community’s support for the team’s effort to get to Detroit and compete on a national stage.

“We appreciate all of the community support and everybody jumping on board to help us,” Lineburg said. “The students and Coach Reeves did all of the work, and I appreciated all they did to make this happen.”

The accomplishments of the Cometbots robotics team provides a big shot in the arm for both the school system and Halifax County High School.

“This puts us in such a positive light,” the school superintendent pointed out. “It helps our career and technical education program, it helps our STEM programs, and I think it will make it exciting for kids who are interested in robotics in the future. As little as a police escort is, when you make something like this special, it makes more kids want to come back to participate in these programs.”

The success of Team 977 also carries positive implications in the community, Lineburg added.

“I think our business partners in the community will look at this and see that we are forward thinking and are doing some creative things,” he said. “I think it gives our whole school a shot in the arm.”

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com