LYNWOOD, CA. – Cesar Chavez Middle School’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) team put its creative and technical skills to the test during a regional contest in April, sweeping the competition with first-place rankings that have secured them a spot at the MESA State Competition on May 20.

The CCMS team will compete against students from across California who will show off their winning projects focused on community equity for the 2023 State Championship title. This marks the third time CCMS will be represented at the state level.

“To see their confidence level grow as students and as people is such an amazing thing to witness, and it’s why we do this,” CCMS math teacher Adam Brand said. “To make it this far is a testament to all the work and dedication our students have put into their projects, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments.”

MESA is a national academic enrichment program that inspires middle school, high school and college students to embrace STEM. The MESA program has been at CCMS since 2013 and includes a partnership with UC Irvine, which regularly provides resources and opportunities to students.

Brand – along with CCMS math teacher Raul Vallejo, innovation coach Jesus Hernandez and fifth-grade teacher Richard Merrill – spend long hours after school with the students, aiming to inspire them to push the boundaries of their imagination and use their creative intuition to defy the expectations set before them by the judges.

During the April 15 Southern MESA Day Regional Competition, CCMS students Angie Sepulveda, Mathew Llamas, Natalia Gutierrez and Teresa Salazar were recognized for their innovative project called a “flexi-brace,” inspired by a team member who is impacted by a limp.

Students – who were challenged to design a product that promotes equity in the community – engineered the flexi-brace as an innovative solution to a real-world problem, demonstrating their potential to make positive contributions to society. They were the first team to win first-place in all four phases of the competition, including design brief, poster symposium, prototype pitch and technical interview.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot about my community, achieved certain skills to allow me to help others, and collaborative skills to help me work together with other teammates,” Salazar said.

Andrea Cordova and Carla Sanchez placed second overall for their Cargo Glider Project, which consisted of constructing a glider that was strong enough to fly over an obstacle for a minimum distance.

Winners of the MESA California State Competition will move on to the National Design and Engineering Competition in New Mexico in June.

“Congratulations to the MESA team for their incredible achievements this school year,” Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite, Ph.D. said. “Their success is a testament to their hard work, dedication and innovative thinking. I wish them the best of luck as they advance to the State Championships, and I have no doubt that they will continue to make their school and community proud.”


LUSD_MESA_1: (From left to right) Teresa Salazar, Natalia Gutierrez, Mathew Llamas, and Angie Sepulveda show off their awards after the MESA regional competition on April 15.

LUSD_MES_2: The Cesar Chavez Middle School MESA Team celebrates a successful day after the preliminary MESA Day event on March 4.