National Consumers League

Dispatches from the Road: The New Yankee LifeSmarts


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      By Seth Woods, LifeSmarts Outreach Coordinator For several weeks, high school students across the country will be competing in LifeSmarts state tournaments, earning automatic bids to the National Championship in Atlanta. Outreach coordinator Seth Woods is attending several of these events and submitted this report. I’d like to say that the travel wasn’t getting to me, but let’s be honest, after nearly two weeks on the road, jumping from state to state to state every 48 hours, I was starting to falter. I was really proud that I had only eaten fast food once (and that was in the Atlanta airport, every single flight I took connected through ATL). And as my plane touched down in Boston, I genuinely had no idea if I was going to make it. Fortunately for me, reinforcements were on their way. The first state (sorry, commonwealth) was Massachusetts, and our Rhode Island coordinator, Jim Hedemark, was joining forces with the Boston Federal Reserve to put on Monday’s show. We were also very honored to have MA Treasurer Steve Grossman attend, along with NCL’s Executive Director, Sally Greenberg. Both gave very inspiring speeches to start the day. Using a modified double-elimination bracket, ten teams quickly whittled down to two schools: last year’s champion Milton High, and Palmer High, who won the title two years ago. It came down to the tiebreakers, but Milton successfully held onto their crown for another year. Only 48 hours later, I was in Manchester, New Hampshire for their tournament; and got to meet their state Treasurer Catherine Provencher. Six teams were playing for the title (again using a modified bracket), including one new team from Goffstown. Although they were one of the first teams out, they were definitely going out on top: since it was cheaper than renting a school bus, the team rode the ten miles to the tournament in a stretch limousine! The finals were a rematch from earlier in the day; Raymond won the first match, but Spaulding High worked their way through the wild card to take home the title for the second year in a row. I was noticing a recurring theme here: the matches were always close, but previous winners had a knack for pulling out victory in the last moments of competition. It happened in Connecticut too, the final stop of my whirlwind tour. Danielson Ellis Tech, a first-time team, entered the championship match as the #1 seed; however, an early response on the final question proved fatal, and Waterbury Crosby was able to steal the final 10 points, winning the match by nine. I was very happy for the teams that won (and can’t wait to see them again in Atlanta), and very impressed with the teams that battled hard but came up just short. Despite falling short, they showed great character and sportsmanship, and determination to succeed in the future.  I know they had a great time, and are ready to play again. And I can’t wait to see them—next year’s season is only 165 days away! The next report: The final competition before the national tournament is the DC championship.