Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 National LifeSmarts Championship a huge success

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

Once again, our NCL LifeSmarts team outdid itself - the competitions in Miami finished today amid a great deal of excitement and nail biting as the four semifinalists Arizona, Maryland, Kansas, and North Dakota began their morning competitions, leading to the finals where North Dakota and Maryland squared off, and with the Maryland team scoring a decisive victory and becoming our LifeSmarts champions for 2010.

The Maryland team's coach, a homeschooling and farmer Mom, whose son was captain of the team, explained to me the intense work that went into her kids taking first prize. Since they are all homeschooled, they have more flexibility in their day. She reached out to private and public schools to get their participation, but the officials she talked to said they or their kids were just too busy to devote the kind of time she expected.

So she arranged for her team to meet twice a week for three hours, and they've been doing that since last September. The hardest part for the kids is learning the names of federal agencies and what agencies under them do - like the fact that the Bureau of Land Management falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior. If you live in Washington DC, knowing this kind of information is part of your DNA. However, if you live in rural Frederick County, Maryland and you're 15 or 16 or 17 years old, you have to commit these details to memory. The team visited real people who could teach them valuable information, such as a mortgage officer in a bank and a funeral home owner, to learn about rules regulating funeral home practices under the Federal Trade Commission regulations. They tested each other and researched topics on their own to bring back to the group.

The knowledge these kids from Maryland clearly had gained in preparing for LifeSmarts showed throughout the three days of competitions. They had quick answers to most questions, even on the most complex topics, and seemed at ease with the process. But then again, many of the teams were well prepared and every one of our young participants is surely a savvier consumer after participating in our program.

Our LifeSmarts Team at NCL - led by Lisa Hertzberg and assisted by Brandi Williams, Emily Stevenson, Carol McKay, Theresa Smith, Terry Kush, and Dana Brunson - with a huge assist from Seth Woods, NCL board member and alum of LifeSmarts from Kentucky, surpassed past national competitions by all accounts. Congratulations to the kids, their coaches, their families and thanks to our sponsors for supporting the cause of creating a new generation of consumer-savvy teens.

LifeSmarts in the news!

Thanks to NBC Miami's Willard Shepard for covering our event! Check out the story that aired last night here.

Congratulations to this year's five LifeSmarts topic area winners! Each topic area champion received a $500 scholarship from NCL.
  • Environment: Ricky Tabandera, Hawaii
  • Personal Finance: Robert Dickens, Maryland
  • Health and Safety: Hafsa Khanum, Connecticut
  • Consumer Rights and Responsibilities: Gabrielle Sclafani, Rhode Island
  • Technology: Pierce Donovan,Pennsylvania

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rankings going into Quarter Finals

  1. Arizona
  2. Kansas
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Florida
  5. North Dakota
  6. Maryland
  7. South Carolina
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Pennsylvania
  11. Hawaii
  12. New Jersey
  13. Delaware
  14. Washington
  15. Connecticut
  16. Illinois
  17. Wisconsin
  18. Vermont
  19. Missouri
  20. Minnesota
  21. Kentucky
  22. Indiana
  23. Virginia
  24. New York
  25. Tennessee
  26. Nebraska
  27. Ohio
  28. Oklahoma
  29. Texas
  30. Alabama
  31. District of Columbia
  32. California

Semi-finalists are in!

Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, and North Dakota have advanced to the semi-finals!

Starting at 9 am Eastern Tuesday, you can watch the teams compete live online! Hosted by MSNBC's Consumer Man Herb Weisbaum, Kansas and Maryland will face off at 9 am, with Arizona vs. North Dakota following.

Check out the action at!

Quarter finals underway!

The 8 quarter finalist teams are competing now, in today's last set of matches, to determine who will go on to the semi-finals tomorrow!

Arizona vs. Rhode Island
Kansas vs. South Carolina
New Hampshire vs. Maryland
Florida vs. North Dakota

Check back here this afternoon to meet our semi-finalists, and don't forget to watch them compete live tomorrow AM starting at 9 Eastern at

The 2010 National LifeSmarts Championship has all teams competing seven times at Nationals this year. More teamwork, more knowledge, and more learning happening than ever before -- and, as a result, teams have the possibility of earning more points.

Storm's a-brewin' ...

... literally and figuratively in Miami Beach!

Rain is coming down in sheets outside, which means our fabulous pool party this evening (thank you, American Express, for sponsoring this event!) will likely be relocated to the Starlight Ballroom on the 18th floor, which boasts a tremendous view of the ocean and city. On the first floor, competition rooms are filled with tension. Teams in contention for the Quarter Finals (those ranked in the top 8 by mid-day today) are checking out the competition, figuring out who they'll be up against next, and doing some last-minute studying.

Check back for news about the Quarter Finalists this afternoon!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday standings

Here's how things are shaping up, after the online pre-competition Team Smarts, a team written assessment, individual assessments, and two matches -- follow your team's progress in green on the left, and track the rankings in the orange columns on the right.

In the lead: Arizona, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Kansas. Closely behind -- rounding out the top 8 teams (the top 8 will ultimately compete in the quarter finals) -- are Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

What a good looking group!

Ay, ay, captain!

Congratulations, 2010 State Champion Coaches!

New for the 2010 National LifeSmarts Championship: teams are invited to nominate their coach for the "LifeSmarts Coach of the Year" Award. Teams who nominate their coach will explain what makes their coach the best: how do they motivate their team? How do they instill LifeSmarts values in their students?
The National Consumers League will honor a distinguished coach this year with a $500 cash prize! Check back Tuesday to learn about this year's winning coach!

Palmer High School pride

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Miami Beach Forecast: Perfect

It's 79 degrees and sunny in Miami Beach, and state champion teams are starting to arrive at the Miami Beach Resort, where the action will begin with a general orientation session tonight.

On the agenda for today:

12:00 – 4:00 pm: Teams Register (Grande Promenade Foyer)
12:00 – 4:00 pm: Team Photos (Balboa)
4:00 – 4:45 pm: Coach & Captain Orientation (Mediterranean West)
4:45: Captains Photo (LifeSmarts registration)
5:00 – 5:45 pm: Welcome Orientation (Mediterranean East)
6:00 – 7:00 pm: Competition 2: Team Activity -- Team Written Assessment (Mediterranean East)
6:00 – 6:45 pm: Coach Meeting & Focus Group (Mediterranean West)
6:50 pm: Coaches Photo (LifeSmarts Registration)
7:00 – 8:00 pm: Dinner & Meet Sister Teams (Grande Promenade)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Inter-Lakes defends state championship title in NH

By Guest Blogger Dan Hebert, New Hampshire LifeSmarts Coordinator

On March 10th, Inter-lakes High School from Meredith, NH successfully defended its state championship title at the 2010 New Hampshire LifeSmarts State Championship. But the victory did not come easily.

The team from Newfound Regional High School from Bristol, NH – a first-time finalist – overcame first-round jitters by winning the wildcard elimination round followed by a victory in the semi-final round. As soon as their semi-final match concluded, they were back on the stage for the championship match.

Newfound Regional team members - Adam Swain, Chris Woolsey, Tyler Parker, Brooks Bergholm, Justine Bauer and their coaches, Sheila Miller and Susan Blake – battled back and forth with the Inter-Lakes team. The tension and drama increased with every question, and the score remained tied through most of the Challenge Round.

The title was determined by the final question. With Inter-Lakes leading by five points, they buzzed in first, earning the right to answer the question – which they answered incorrectly. Newfound calmly waited for the entire question to be read and then provided an answer that resulted in a long deliberation by the judges. The atmosphere in the room was incredibily tense. The judges ultimately ruled the answer as incorrect, giving Inter-Lakes the victory. The room exploded in excitement and both teams demonstrated an amazing display of good sportsmanship and compassion.

Inter-Lakes team members - Tim Quinney, Ryan Chappuis, Austin Hart, Teddy Willey, Galen Muskat and coach Charles Bates – are now focused on the Nationals in Miami. This year’s state experience should serve them well in the pressure of the national stage.

What’s at stake at this year’s National LifeSmarts Championship

The prizes are in, and the 32 state champion teams will be playing for quite a spread this year.

In addition to the prizes awarded to the top teams this year, there are two new categories of awards at the 2010 National LifeSmarts Championship:

Coach of the Year, which comes with a $500 prize, and five Individual LifeSmarts Topic Winners, each of whom will also receive a $500 college scholarship.

So, more incentive to do some last-minute cramming, eh? The 2010 National LifeSmarts Champion team will walk away with the following:

  • $1,000 college scholarship from Experian
  • $1,000 savings bond from Western Union
  • $100 Staples gift card from AHAM
  • $50 Target gift card
  • Gifts from Boardroom, Hasbro and Southwestern
  • Honorary membership to NCL for one year

And the winning coach will receive:

  • $500 Education grant for school/org from DMA
  • $100 Midas gift card
  • $100 Target gift card
  • Gifts from Guittard and Hasbro
  • National LifeSmarts Championship trophy

Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 Major Donors

The National Consumers League thanks the following generous sponsors for helping make LifeSmarts the program it is today:

Lead Sponsor

LifeSmarts Champion
Western Union

Team Builder
American Express
American Century Investments

Question Master
Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC
McNeil Consumer Healthcare
Toyota Financial Services
TracFone Wireless, Inc.

Reckitt Benckiser
Toy Industry Association, Inc.
Toys ‘R’ Us

Underwriters Laboratories

NCL also thanks the many sponsors at the Contributor Level

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thanks, LifeSmarts supporters!

NCL thanks the following organizations for donating prizes for the top-placing teams:

Western Union, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Underwriters Laboratories, Toyota Financial Services, Guittard Chocolate Company, Hasbro Games, Midas International Corporation, Southwestern Company

NCL thanks the following organizations for donating goodie-bag items for all participants:

Experian, Western Union, Recording Industry Association of America, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Underwriters Laboratories, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, American Express, Midas International Corporation, International Bottled Water Association

Friday, April 16, 2010

J.P. Stevens High vs. J.P. Stevens High in New Jersey Finals

The New Jersey State LifeSmarts competition is our earliest state event, taking place each November. The following is a recap of last fall’s competition.

By Guest Blogger Casey Dougan, New Jersey Team Captain

The LifeSmarts New Jersey State finals are over, and it was a very interesting competition as a total of six teams fought it out head-to-head at the State semi-finals on November 23, 2009 for the New Jersey State title. After defeating two teams, the John P. Stevens Hawks advanced to the finals—only to be pitted against their sister team, the John P. Stevens Original!

The final round of competition was a very heated and fast-paced event, with both teams deadlocked for most of the rounds. A pair of sisters proudly represented their school, from opposing teams.

Tension was in the air as each sister excitedly waited for her turn, both hoping to beat out the other. As question master, Carol Otis, read each question carefully and precisely, both teams listed intently and were sure to buzz in as soon as they knew the answer. The judges quickly came to decisions about answers and were strict in enforcing the rule that your name must be called before you speak in the team and challenge rounds.

In the end, John P. Stevens Original advanced to the finals and will be representing New Jersey for the second year in a row at the National LifeSmarts Competition in Miami Beach, Florida in April!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2009 Oklahoma state champs return to represent at 2010 National LifeSmarts Championship

By Guest Blogger Denise Morris, Oklahoma State LifeSmarts Coordinator

The state Oklahoma LifeSmarts competition was held in Stillwater, Oklahoma on February 3. Six teams from across the state competed in the day long competition. Competing teams were from Porter H.S., Fairview H.S., Edmond Memorial H.S., Waurika H.S., Ponca City H.S. and Broken Arrow H.S.

The new state LifeSmarts champions are from Porter H.S., coached by Sharon Guidrey. This is the second year in a row that Porter has won the state competition, and two of the state champion team members are returning from last year's team. Porter placed third at the national competition last year.

The state LifeSmarts competition is sponsored by Oklahoma Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. FCCLA is one of seven career and technical student organizations in Oklahoma. We are pleased to add Accent Realty who was a sponsor of this year's LifeSmarts competition. The 2011 state competition will be held February 10th in Stillwater.