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March 26, 2022

AHA’s All-Girl Robotics Teams Help Close STEM Gender Gap

When someone says “robotics,” do you picture a girl building her own creation and programming it to perform specific tasks? You should. The young women from the Academy of the Holy Angels regularly construct robots and test them in competition. Together, they are preparing to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

Angelbots and Anjoules, the Academy’s varsity and JV robotics teams, are now inspiring even younger women who attend the new AHA Middle School. The high school students recently took time from their busy competition schedule to share their expertise at a well-received morning demonstration for the younger Angels.


This winter, both teams competed in the January 26 FIRST® Tech Challenge at Emerson High School and the Feb 26-28 FTC Bergen County League Tournament. The latter included a meet at Glen Rock High School and follow-up interviews via Zoom. AHA Math Department teachers Jing Loo, who is the robotics team adviser, and Sharon Jureller brought the Angels to both events.


“After going through a weekend competition and two nights of interviews, we finally finished all the competitions for the year, and they all did well,” Loo reported in early March. “I’ve been staying after school until 4 p.m. every single day since we came back from Christmas break. I am so tired, and yet I am so happy, because it was the girls who wanted to stay after school every single day to put in all this extra time to make sure their robot was up and running.


“They all put in 100% for their team. Any of them can easily tell you in detail how their robot was designed and put together. They work so well with each other. They help each other, they respect each other’s opinions, and they patiently listen to each other’s ideas. They are resilient. Many times, they discovered mistakes were made after all the parts were put together. After realizing their mistakes, they would just pick up the tools, unscrew, and rebuild.”


This year’s Anjoules include Lauren Tong and Sienna Pacione of Old Tappan, Stephanie Chan of Closter, Julianna Dail of Saddle River, Sharanya Agarwal of West New York, Amalia Ferolie of Cresskill, Sofia Burkards of Fort Lee, Michelle Amador of Cliffside Park, Eve Jurcevic of Hillsdale, Alessandra Boncaldo of Stony Point (NY), Xenaya Medina of Clifton, and Madeline Sung of Norwood.


Current Angelbots are Adriana Santos of Ridgefield, Grace Watson of Glen Rock, Jiayi “Stella” Ouyang of Nanuet (NY), Jacqueline LaMastra and Xinyue “Cindy” Yang of Tenafly, Raphaela Cárdenas of Clifton, and Kate Shen of Englewood Cliffs.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.