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STEM robotics team celebrates 10 years and remembers hero who saved lives

Kendrick Castillo .png
Posted at 7:23 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 14:59:28-04

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Five years after a shooting claimed the life of 18-year-old robotics team member Kendrick Castillo at STEM School Highlands Ranch, the robotics team continues to carry on his legacy.

“He was a man that was full of laughter and jokes. He made us all feel welcome and happy,” Dakota Mann, who is an alumni at STEM School Highlands Ranch and coach for Team Impulse, told Denver7 recently. “It was just before the end of the semester. And he was telling me all about how he couldn't wait to come back and mentor. And if things had gone differently, he would probably be in this chair for the 10th anniversary instead of me.”

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The parents of Kendrick Castillo say their son was a hero and they want the public to know what a great kid he was.

On May 7, 2019, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillocharged at a fellow student who pulled out a gun in their STEM School Highlands Ranch classroom. In the altercation, Castillo died disarming the gunman, saving the lives of his classmates.

“We're reaching a moment where a lot of the students on the team didn't have a chance to meet him, didn't know him in person, these events, for the most part are in the past for them. But while they don't know Kendrick by name, they know him in spirit. There's a lot of elements of the team that have been passed down from Kendrick that we have all upheld. And a lot of that is our team culture, being kind to one another, enjoying the work we do, taking pride in the work that we accomplish,” Mann said.


All of the current students on the robotics team did not personally know Kendrick. However, they know who he was, and they remember what he stood for every day they come to school.

“Kendrick, definitely united our community to a level that it had never been before,” Team Impulse member Eknara Dassanayake said. “He definitely gave us all something to strive towards, something that we should actively pursue. He was an amazing role model and he still is. And genuinely, I feel like us as a robotics community hold him to such a high standard. And we genuinely want to do better for him to continue his legacy.”

Castillo was known to love his Jeep that he drove to school. To honor him, the STEM school reserves his parking spot, and no one can park there. Added to his parking spot are Jeep tire tracks.


“The deep tracks show that he's always still here for us supporting us and helping us go higher further and faster,” Team Impulse member Dylan Moran said. “A big part of Kendrick's legacy on this team was the space he left behind for students in which no matter how you competing in a competition, no matter if you're struggling on an assignment or anything, you always see people always willing to help each other.”

In the 10 years that Team Impulse has been operating, they have had many accomplishments including almost doubling in membership.

“When I started in high school, of course, I wasn't thinking about the fact that I'd still be here 10 years later, but really, 10 years has felt like nothing,” Mann said. “I had a lot of dedicated mentors that volunteered their time to help make me who I am today. I wanted to provide the same experience for the next generation of students that was provided towards me.”

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In their most recent regional competition in Colorado, they competed against nearly 50 other teams and won the Woody Flowers Award, which recognizes outstanding mentorship. They also won the Excellence in Engineering Award, which recognizes performance and team organization.

If you are a student in the Highlands Ranch area and are interested in robotics, Team Impulse is looking to further expand their membership. You can visit their website for more information.

STEM robotics team celebrates 10-years and remembers hero who saved lives

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