What do you find to be challenging? Is it games, puzzles, physical achievement, other people, Student working on Braille Writter during Braille Challengeor even learning a new language? Children who are blind or visually impaired face a number of paramount challenges daily  with things often taken for granted by their sighted peers. Take, for instance, the advantage of sight in basic learning. How would you go about learning if you had limited sight or couldn’t see?

Despite inherent obstacles to overcome, students at Tennessee School for the Blind look forward to adding yet another challenge to their lives each spring. It’s the challenge to prove, in spite of difficulties, just how efficient they are becoming and what they have achieved. This challenge comes through two venues. Students learning a unique tactual writing system of communication for the blind called Braille are 
challenged in four areas. These areas include reading comprehension, proofreading, speed and accuracy, and charts and graphs. Students who are visually impaired and maybe using the assistance of visual enhancement aides, but not using the braille writing system, are also challenged. TSB created the Academic Challenge to run congruent with the Braille event so all the students have a day to express what they have achieved. 
This year’s competitions took place on Thursday, February 21st, on the school’s campus. The Braille students participate in the Tennessee Regional Braille Challenge, part of The Braille Challenge®, a national program of The Braille Institute. This marks the 13th consecutive year TSB
has hosted one of 50 regional events. Hundreds of students from 32 states and Canada participated. The top 50 students with the highest scores are invited to participate in the Challenge’s final round in Los Angeles, California in June.Braille users compete in five categories according to grade or advancement. Students may compete in a category lower than their grade level, particularly if they are newer braille users. Only students competing on grade level however, are eligible for prizes within their category. Students in the Apprentice and Freshman categories competed in Reading Comprehension, Proofreading, and Spelling, while students in the Sophomore, Junior Varsity, and Varsity categories competed in Reading Comprehension, Proofreading, Speed and Accuracy, and Charts and Graphs.Of the 29 students participating in the regional braille competition this year, 20 were TSB students. The other nine students came from Davidson, Houston, Wilson, Williamson, Hawkins, and Putnam counties.
 
The Academic Challenge, renamed in recent years as the Connie Winters Memorial Academic Challenge, was also a great success. Students responded to questions in math, social studies, and science in similar fashion as previous years. However, other subjects saw changes in presentation. This year a Spelling Bee, as well as two new STEM rooms, with hands-on activities, provided exciting challenges. STEM projects included cup stacking and Lego car making with functionality challenges.Once the competition part of the day was over, students enjoyed a pizza lunch and a choice of activities in the afternoon. Some students played fitness Jenga, some sang karaoke, and others decorated Mardi Gras masks and other events. Braille students also played Braille Bingo before the awards ceremony. The day concluded with a closing assembly where each participant received a certificate and a goody bag.The Tennessee Regional Braille Challenge students winning cash prizes were: Novice (students taking a contest below grade level)
1.  Rachel Haynes - TSB
2.  Sydney Little - TSB
3.  TaMyah Jordan - TSB Apprentice (1st & 2nd grade)
1.  Martavius Jones - Metro Nashville
2.  Chace Bradley - Metro Nashville
3.  Luis Guadarrama - Metro Nashville Sophomore (5th & 6th grade)
1.  Abigail Sweet - Putnam County
2.  Tegan Tadlock - TSB
3.  Nevaeh Valdes - TSB Junior Varsity
1.  Abbi Garcia - Wilson County
2.  Dani Gomez-Delgado - Metro Nashville
3.  Andrew Bush - TSB Varsity
1.  Anthony Bonetti - TSB
2.  Taylor Clarke - Vandermark - TSB
3.  Graham Walker - Houston County
The  Connie Winters Memorial Academic Challenge Winners were as follows:
 
Social Studies
1. Brian Rock
2. Korey Nettles
3. Miranda Bennett-Graham
 
STEM 1 – Tower Stacking
1. Isis Noneman
2. Cody Grissom
3. Carson Umphrey
 
STEM 2 – Lego
1. Trenton Smith
2. Savannah Copithorne
3. Aubrey Sparks
 
Spelling
1. Christian Herrera
2. Ryan Mayberry
3. Manny Figueredo
 
Math
1. Emiley Sutton
2. Easton Huffman
3. Jamarius Turner
 
Science
1. Johnathon Grissom
2. Levi Dykes
3. Alexa Culver
 
ECC Leadership Awards
Keaundre Mason
Hadden Luallen
Rowan Wilkerson
Leah Mayberry
Barry Cannady

Much appreciation and thanks goes to the sponsors and friends who generously contributed to make this day special for the students. The event was completely funded by B'nai B'rith Maimonides Lodge #46, the oldest Jewish organization in Nashville. This organization sponsors programs and events for visually impaired children and promotes community interfaith events and service. B'nai B'rith generously funded the pizza lunch, student t-shirts, medals, cash prizes, and goody bags. In addition, gift certificates were donated by Seedlings Braille Books for Children, and National Braille Press and HumanWare donated a Victor Reader Stream. Drawings were held for these prizes. Lee Smith from TSB received the Seedlings certificate, Maliyah Green from TSB received the National Braille Press certificate, and Danny Brown from TSB won the drawing for the Victor Reader Stream.Julia Hedrick spearheaded the effort for Tennessee’s Braille Regional Challenge and Sabrina McClure the committee producing the Connie Winters Memorial Academic Challenge. They, along with the administration, are thankful for the great time and success of this year’s event.