Return to Headlines

CHS Students National Competitors in Forensic Science and Photographic Technology

            Three members of the Cleburne High School chapter of Technology Students Association will be competing at the “Discover Your Journey” National Conference which begins Sunday in Grapevine.

            Zoe Wilson and Parker Murphy are national qualifiers in Forensic Science, while Jimmy Lopez will be among the competitors in Photographic Technology. The students were recognized by CISD Trustees at the June 20 school board, along with TSA faculty sponsors Dawn Broadway and Dawn Goains.

            Technology Student Association is a career and technical student organization that involves middle school and high school members in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Cleburne’s national qualifiers posted top scores in regional and state contests in advancing to this level of competition. As a chapter, Cleburne TSA placed third overall in state competition.

            Wilson, who is a member of the 2022 graduating class, and Murphy, who is an incoming senior, are the Texas TSA champions in Forensic Science going into Monday’s preliminary round involving a written test. Semifinalists will be engaged in an on-site challenge on Tuesday, demonstrating the proper techniques to collect evidence and providing a detailed written analysis of the crime scene.

            “I believe they have a good chance of winning,” Broadway said. “They were in my Forensics class this year, and as a competitive team, they are very effective in their work together. They compliment each other in their strengths and skills. Zoe is an excellence test taker and Parker is a major competitor in crime scene analysis. If they make it to the finals, I know they will place.”

            Murphy and Wilson credit Broadway for influencing them to join TSA and compete in the forensic science event.

            “We are not expected to solve a crime,” Murphy said. “We are supposed to analyze the evidence and determine how it should be studied in the lab in providing an analysis of the crime scene. At the state contest, we had to evaluate the scene and evidence in a missing persons case. I never thought we would place first, but the judges did say that if they were the bodies found at a crime scene, they hoped Zoe and I would be the investigators.”  

            Murphy, who plans to major in pre-law in college, with hopes of becoming a prosecutor, believes what he has learned in forensic science and his contest experiences may come in handy.

            “Now I have this little piece of knowledge,” he said. “In a court case, if there is evidence that has to do with forensics, I will know what to ask.”

            Wilson chose to take forensics as a fan of crime-solving dramas. She never imagined she would find herself a competitor in crime scene analysis.

            “I thought it would be interesting to take this class,” she said. “This has been very surprising and a fun experience. I can now say I’ve gone to state and national contests as a forensic investigator. We have been preparing for the contest, including becoming more familiar with our crime scene kit. We are confident in knowing what the challenges will be like. I’m nervous and excited—but mostly nervous. I never thought we’d get this far.”

            Lopez, who is also a 2022 graduate, is a four-year member of TSA and has competed in skills events since his freshman year.

            “I was interested in technology and computers, so I joined TSA,” he said. “My older brother was a member and talked about it a lot, so I decided I wanted to be a member, too. My freshman year I was on a two-person video team and created a 30-second commercial. I did the camera work and was also the director.”

            As a sophomore, Lopez produced a second commercial promoting cake pops, which he filmed at the Chaf-In restaurant in downtown Cleburne. When COVID cancelled competitions that spring, Lopez held on to his work, and entered it as a junior.

            “It went well,” he said. “I advanced to the state contest. This year, I decided to enter Photographic Technology. I wanted to stretch myself. I’ve been taking random photos since I was in middle school. I like to photograph objects I find interesting—and people—mostly my friends, and selfies.”

            In the Photographic Technology event, contestants must demonstrate an understanding and expertise in using photographic and imaging technology processes based on a theme. Lopez has already made it past the preliminary round, which was conducted in May, in which he submitted a portfolio of ten photos for judging. As a semifinalist in the national competition, he will have to produce two portfolios in a limited and specified time.

            “Jimmy’s event is very intense and has lots of skills built into it,” Goains said. “It takes a lot of work to finish in the top ten at the state contest—and Jimmy placed fifth.”

            Lopez, who plans to major in digital media studies at Tarleton State University, would like to work in an animation studio.

            “But I plan to continue to take photos—for fun,” he said. “My family always asks me to take photos—they say I take good ones. I think with all the time I have put in, along with the work in getting ready for this year’s contests, taking a good photo is coming naturally to me now.”

            Cleburne students placed in the top four in numerous skills events as contributors to their chapter’s third place finish at state.

 Results for Beginner Level Entries:


  1st  Kallie Watson, Technical Report


  1st   Ty Culwell, Computer Generated Graphic Art; 4th Computer Generated Drawing


  4th John Martinez


  1st   Maximus Martin, 3D Animation

  1st   Dayana Reyes Herrera, 2D Animation (30 sec)

  3rd  Hallie Davis, 2D Animation (30 sec)

  3rd  Morgana Handy, 2D Animation (15 sec)


  3rd  Peyton Funderburk, Aerial


  1st   Samuel Brandenburg, Static display of a robotic application - other

  2nd Ryelyn Lott, Static display of a robotic application - hazardous material or safety application

  3rd  Gabriel Clifford, Robot using two sensors & only 1 controlling unit


   Results for Experienced Level Entries


   1st   Audrey McClure, Computer Generated Graphic Art; 4th Computer Generated Drawing


  2nd Kelsey Meland, Aerial; 3rd Landscape

  4th  Naomi Patnode, Macro; 4th Product Photography

  4th  Braxton Lawler, Animal - Action


  1st    Paithen Steinbrink, Static display of a robotic application that moves materials / parts