Jo Mackey Academy of Leadership and Global Communication will Represent Southern Nevada at World Lego Championship

Immediate Release


Greg Bortolin
Las Vegas, NV - April 18, 2017

Talk about dynasties. A team from Jo Mackey Academy of Leadership and Global Communication in North Las Vegas has won the FIRST LEGO League Southern Nevada State Championship five years running and will be sending a team to the world championship for the third time.

“This is a phenomenal accomplishment by Jo Mackey Academy and the Lego Leaders Team,” said Manny Lamarre, Executive Director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation. “The students’ ability to identify a problem they want to solve and then leveraging technology via programming and robotics puts them at the forefront of innovation. Additionally, the students’ experience working on a competitive, fun and collaborative team and using critical thinking skills to troubleshoot as they build their robots equip them with 21st century skills needed in Nevada’s economic development and workforce ecosystem. Beginning with the students and continuing with their parents, teachers, and school leaders, the success of the Lego Leaders team represents excellence on many levels.”

Rachel Kuntz is the coach of the team of fourth and fifth graders at Jo Mackey and is assisted by Blair Heath. The team consists of Esteban Dominguez, Esmirna Anguiano, Onyxx Jordan, Caitlin McKoy, Danielle Reta, Austin Villatoro, Julia Berry, and Z'Kya Smith.

Donations for the Jo Mackey team’s trip to Houston can be made through robotics donation link on the school website at

“Our project focus was helping lost pets get home,” said Rachel Kuntz, who has coached the Jo Mackey teams for the past nine years. “The team developed a microchip that would have GPS capabilities using a kinetic battery to power it. This would allow owners to immediately track a lost pet. It would also help in cases of pet theft as the microchip could not be removed or lost like a collar.”

The Jo Mackey team beat out nearly 70 teams – most of which were from middle schools – to win the Champion's Award at the Southern Nevada State Competition. This punched Jo Mackey’s ticket to the World Festival in Houston. The Lego Leaders have won the Southern Nevada State Championship three times. Another team from Jo Mackey, The Mackey Mindstorms, have won twice and been to the World Festival once.

The Jo Mackey teams exemplify the workforce development focus of Governor Brian Sandoval to meet the needs of Nevada’s changing economy. Nevada was one of 10 states that each received $2 million workforce development grants in January from JPMorgan Chase & Co. The grant is aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill, well-paying careers.

An unprecedented coalition of stakeholders came together to apply for this grant including the Nevada Department of Education; the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation; the Nevada System of Higher Education; the Office of Workforce Innovation; the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Other key partners include the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Faraday Future, Click Bond, Inc. and Tesla.

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