Lion Cup II – Diocesan STREAM Robotics competition a huge success

The second annual Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools Lion Cup robotics competition was a huge success as 39 teams and more than 220 students gathered April 22, 2023, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

The Lion Cup – a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) middle and high school robotics tournament, included competitors and teams representing all 15 Diocesan Catholic schools. The competition was fierce, and the intensity built as the day progressed and the participants became laser-focused on being the best.

“I am very impressed,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane to all the competitors during the closing awards ceremony. “Everyone was at such a great level. Well done!”

Bishop Dewane said his support for the STREAM program, and robotics component, grew out of the concept of preparing students for the future.

“Whether in high school or middle school, we must prepare you to have the skills and exposure to this kind of process. STREAM and robotics introduce the skills that will be used in many different areas, and this faith-infused program enforces the virtues that are instilled into the very fabric of this program,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Bishop also thanked the Diocesan Education team, the teachers, coaches, parents and the students for embracing the STREAM initiative at all grade levels.

Leah Chung of the middle school Falcons 23 team from St. Francis Xavier said the team had been practicing intensely leading up to the competition, giving them the confidence to succeed.

“We worked so hard to get ready and it was so much fun to compete against the other schools,” Leah, an 8th grader said. “We used our different skills to become a real team and it showed today. We are all so happy.”

The winning high school team, Team NIC (Neumann in Control), was one of four teams competing from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples. After winning the top prize by one point, the teammates said their key strategy to success was how they focused on having fun, thus allowing the pressure of the competition to go away.

The competition was fierce as teams programmed their robots to accomplish various tasks in a specific order in a limited amount of time. The middle school robots are made from Lego pieces and traversed an obstacle course, attempting to pick up items along the way. Teamwork came into play in design, construction and strategy. The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control as they do assigned tasks.

The teams participated in a round robin format with each team getting the chance to have their robot compete at least twice. The top eight made the quarterfinals, four to the finals and an eventual winner was crowned. As each level commenced, the emotions ran high. In between the intense competition the teams had pizza and sweets served from food trucks.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the few hours of competition brought out the best from the students and reflected their core Catholic virtues.

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocese Curriculum Specialist, organized the event and was pleased to see so many competitors, nearly double the inaugural 2022 Lion Cup. “This is so wonderful to see everyone get so involved and excited about STREAM and robotics.”

The Lion Cup honors St. Mark, one of the patron saints of the Diocese of Venice, whose symbol features a winged lion. The competition also pays homage to Leonardo da Vinci, inventor of many of the first robots, one of which resembles a lion.

“Da Vinci’s works incorporate three design attributes developed by Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect and engineer: Firmitas (strength), Utilitas (utility) and Venustas (beauty),” said Father Belmonte.

Special awards were presented to the teams that reflected the attributes of Firmitas, Utilitas, and Venustas.

The day concluded with special guest Shevin McCullough, of Studio 3:16, a popular social media channel geared toward middle school students, who energized the students with music and key phrases to get the students excited about God.

The winning teams were:

Middle school

1st – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

2nd – Stars Team 01 – St. Andrew Catholic School

3rd – St. Joes 6 – St. Joseph Catholic School

High School

1st – Team NIC (Neumann in Control) – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

2nd – Black & Gold Warriors (BGW) – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

3rd – Nerds Inc. – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady – robotic design, innovation and creativity

Middle school – Phoenix #2 – St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School

High school – Academic Weapons, St. John Neuman Catholic High School

Utilitas – Utility – St. Marcina – Patron Saint of Robots – robotic design and function

Middle school – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

High school – Team NIC (Neumann in Control) – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice – positive Catholic strength, culture and character

Middle school – ECS Tigers 1 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School

High school – Black & Gold Warriors (BGW) – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

News Briefs for the Week of October 29, 2021

Saints Devotional Project: Junior Catechist Training

The Diocese of Venice Department of Catholic Education welcomed eighth graders and their teachers and parents from all 15 Catholic schools to its first Saints Devotional Project Junior Catechist Training Oct. 22, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. This Diocesan-wide project centers on hand-picked pairs of eighth graders from each school to catechize their fellow students by traveling classroom to classroom to give formal presentations about the Saints, Name Days and the Catholic devotion to the saints. These students were chosen through their demonstration of outstanding leadership, excellent instruction and unwavering devotion. The Saints Devotional Project offers opportunities to highlight the importance of leadership in the Faith, evangelization, and discipleship. The training seminar gave the junior catechists the tools and resources they need to conduct classes, while their parents and teachers participated in an orientation that outlined the significance of the devotional project.

Science experiments wow students

Science was on the agenda for students at St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota on Oct. 20, 2021. The students had fun using their hands on experiments, mixing substances such as sugar, salt, vegetable oil and sand with water to predict if they were suspensions or solutions. This was followed by a great discussion as the students predicted what they thought would happen and what they saw with their own eyes.

Parish holds living rosary celebration

St. Paul Parish in Arcadia held a special living rosary celebration on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. The youth of the Parish led the reading of the different decades of the rosary and stood in for the different beads. They were divided into five different groups, wearing distinctive colors, representing different mission countries throughout the world.

Cathedral students stand up to bullying

Students from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice took part in Unity Day activities on Oct. 20, 2021, by wearing orange and standing together vowing an end to bullying. Among the lessons learned was that all should follow the example of Jesus Christ and be kind to one another, no matter what. The students also went outside and stood in the soccer field spelling out the words “BE KIND” as a drone took a photo of everyone.

Lego rover helps students explore

Fifth graders from St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring built a Lego rover as part of a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) project in mid-October 2021. This project helped the students explore ways scientists and engineers reach remote places, create and program “Milo” the Science Rover, and document how Milo can help discover a special plant specimen.

Boosterthon raises money for school

St. Andrew Catholic School students participated in a Boosterthon Fun Run on Sept. 21, 2021, in Cape Coral. The students had fun running while a big thanks went out to families and extended families who helped the school reach its goal of $30,000. The money will go toward allowing more flexible seating options for students in many of the classrooms.

Christ the King Novena Nov. 12-20

On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or Christ the King. This year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urges all Catholics to take part in a Christ the King Novena from Nov. 12-20, 2021. During the nine days preceding the Solemnity, the USCCB asks all to offer their prayers to Christ the King for the freedom of the Church. The USCCB Committee for Religious Freedom, in its core document “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty,” urged that “the Solemnity of Christ the King – a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty – be a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.” A link to the novena can be found at