Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dallas High takes PA title in Harrisburg

By Brandi Williams, LifeSmarts Program Assistant

Coordinated by the Office of the Attorney General in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state LifeSmarts competition was originally scheduled for February 23. However, due to unexpected weather conditions resulting from “Snowpocalypse 2010” in the northeastern region of the country, the event was rescheduled to March 2.

Extreme weather didn’t stop the nine top-placing Pennsylvania LifeSmarts teams from packing their bags and heading to the capitol city of Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania competition was full of energy and excitement, from students, coaches, and volunteer staff, including members of Attorney General Tom Corbett’s staff. “We have such a great team [of volunteers] here,” said Nina Correale, who works in the Public Protection Division of the PA Office of Attorney General. “Everyone loves this program.”

Seven intense matches of competition led to a final match between Elizabethtown Area High School and Dallas High School. The teams were tied right through the end of the match, with Dallas High School winning the match by a single point.

State coordinator Donna Reinaker and her staff of volunteers ensured that all PA participants had a fun and educational experience. “I am a huge fan of LifeSmarts, and have told the Attorney General that LifeSmarts should be mandatory in high school,” said Brian Roche, consumer reporter for WGAL News 8, in his remarks as Question Master for part of the competition. “This stuff is going to stay with you for the rest of your life. This is why I come back every year.” Check out WGAL’s coverage of the competition here.

Linda William, Chief Deputy Attorney General and Director, was impressed by the breadth of knowledge required by teens in the program. “The questions are fantastic,” Williams said. “One question asked when you should discuss the possibility of a trade-in when buying a car. How great was that?”

As the Pennsylvania State Champions, the Dallas High School team and their coach, Kevin West, have earned the chance to represent their state at the LifeSmarts National Championship in Miami Beach, FL next month, competing against other state champion teams from across the country. We wish them luck, and look forward to seeing them in Miami Beach next month!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Little LifeSmarts!

LifeSmarts JV Coach Frances Lucas from Romig Middle School in Anchorage, Alaska, sent this photo of her team wearing the official 2010 LifeSmarts shirts they received for placing first in the online JV competition for their state.

Congratulations, Romig!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Palmer Panthers II takes Massachusetts title

Massachusetts State co-Coordinator Sharon St. Louis with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston reports that the LifeSmarts State Competition held March 10 was very successful, with a total of 16 varsity teams and 3 Junior Varsity teams competing. The winning team from Palmer High School, coached by Helena Naglack, is pictured here. Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Energy-packed state competition hosted in Richmond, VA

By Brandi Williams, LifeSmarts Program Assistant

With a format that closely resembles the National LifeSmarts Championship, the Virginia LifeSmarts Competition is a fast-paced, energy-packed event that is fun to both watch and be a part of. The Virginia LifeSmarts competition was held on March 5 in Richmond, just 100 miles away from the National Consumers League’s Washington, DC office. I kept my fingers crossed all the way there, in hopes that I’d brought along the right shoes – the Virginia LifeSmarts Coalition, which coordinates the state program, puts everyone to work!

Virginia LifeSmarts held its 15th state competition at the Virginia Commonwealth University campus located in downtown Richmond. Hosting 11 teams and running up to five competition rooms simultaneously, Virginia’s competition was a busy one that required the combined efforts of coalition members and volunteers to run smoothly and effectively. The LifeSmarts Coalition, headed by Dr. Celia Hayhoe of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), recruited and coordinated more than 30 volunteers to officiate in competition rooms.

As each match increased in difficulty, the final round of competition was between George C. Marshall High School and Maggie Walker Governor’s School. Teams in the audience cheered these surviving two teams on, as they battled it out for the state title. At the end of a nail-biting match, the Maggie Walker Green Dragons eventually took the Virginia State Champion title.

Teams and officials were particularly excited to have the Honorable Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, officiate as Question Master for the final round of competition. General Cuccinelli was a natural first-time QM, making sure that the top two teams were at ease on the final match stage. Question Master for the semi-final rounds of competition was Assistant Attorney General Courtney Malveaux, a long-time supporter of LifeSmarts and regular volunteer official at the Virginia LifeSmarts competition.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nail-biter LifeSmarts match in Minnesota comes down to final question

By Lisa Hertzberg, LifeSmarts Program Director

What an exciting day of competition in Minnesota! The Minnesota State LifeSmarts Competition came down to the final question, with Willow River leading Prior Lake by just 10 points. The final question was read in pin-dropping silence:

You recently purchased fuel at a gas station and believe you did not receive as much gas as the pump indicates. Who would investigate this?

A Willow River student buzzed in–but the answer given was incorrect. The question was re-read and a Prior Lake student buzzed in – with a chance to tie the match and send it to overtime – but also gave an incorrect answer.

The dramatic end to the competition made one thing certain: none of the students on stage or in the audience will ever put gas in their car again without remembering the correct answer (your state, county or local Department of Weights & Measures).

Willow River won the nail-biter 90-80 to repeat as state champions, moving through the double-elimination grid with its only loss to Prior Lake in the semi-finals. Congratulations to Willow River Coach Lois Johnson and her team!

In hosting the competition, State Coordinators Maili Frison and Barb Grieman were joined by a number of their fellow staff members from the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, including President Dana Badgerow, who congratulated all the teams and presented a $1,500 travel grant to the winning state champions to use towards getting to the national event in Miami.

Fifteen teams competed hard throughout the day and all teams are to be commended for the consumer smarts they demonstrated during the day-long event held at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, MN.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

End of an era for Illinois LifeSmarts

By Lisa Hertzberg, LifeSmarts Program Director

I just returned from a very successful Illinois state LifeSmarts competition at West Chicago High School in West Chicago, Illinois, hosted by State Coordinator Don Zabelin at his home school. Zabelin coached the winning team that will represent Illinois in Miami Beach in just seven weeks! Before heading to Florida, the West Chicago 1 team members will be studying up on 529s, simple interest, and mattress flammability, but they had a very strong showing in all other areas and ran the table to go unbeaten in the double-elimination competition.

For years, Zabelin has always had a great group of volunteer competition officials representing organizations such as the IL AGO, FTC, IL Securities Commission, Money Management International, Bridgestone, and DeVry University. He makes time during the competition to allow students to hear from all of the officials, and Wally Kleinfeldt of the BBB had perhaps the most direct message of the day, encouraging the students to always do their homework as consumers before any major purchase: “You’ll be doing homework for the rest of your life.”

This competition marked the end of an era, as Zabelin passed the torch to Debra Bartman, who will take over the role of Illinois state coordinator this summer. We wish Don the best as he retires after 33 years of teaching – congratulations on a wonderful career! Don, stay in touch – and don’t forget to write several hundred LifeSmarts questions for us in your newly-found spare time!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Florida champs declared in Tampa

By Brandi Williams, LifeSmarts Program Assistant

There is nothing better than seeing LifeSmarts in action!
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to travel from the National Consumers League’s office in Washington, DC to attend the Florida state LifeSmarts competition in Tampa. As NCL staff prepares for the National LifeSmarts Championship in April, also to be held in the state of Florida, we are always excited when we have the chance to attend a state LifeSmarts competition and visit with our state partners.
The Florida LifeSmarts program, coordinated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Affairs, hosted its 2010 state competition at the Florida State Fairgrounds on President’s Day, February 15, 2010. On a day where many students were out of school for the 3-day holiday weekend, 13 student teams from all over the large state of Florida were in attendance to compete for the title of LifeSmarts State Champion and to represent Florida at Nationals.
Teams traveled for five to six hours from far-away cities including Jacksonville and Freeport to showcase their dedication—to not just LifeSmarts, but also to consumer literacy—affirming their commitment to learning the necessary skills to be educated, savvy consumers in today’s changing marketplace. The rounds of competition were tough, culminating in a neck-and-neck battle between the reigning state champs, Seminole County 4-H team and Paxon SAS Varsity from the Paxon School for Advance Studies. While the match was close, Seminole 4-H once again took the title will be on their way to Miami in April.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Affairs Commissioner Charles H. Bronson was there to cheer teams on. He also gave remarks and congratulations to all 13 teams in attendance, and presented the winning team and coaches with a check for $3,300 on behalf of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Affairs.

State Coordinator Gwen Worlds recalled how enthusiastic Commissioner Bronson was when he attended the 2008 LifeSmarts National Championship held in Orlando, FL. “He jumped up from his seat and cheered the Florida team on,” Worlds said. “It was encouraging to the Florida team.”

Congratulations to all teams at the Florida LifeSmarts Competition, and the best of luck to Seminole 4-H in Miami Beach in April!