Grunge, Coffee Beans, Flying Fish, and Personal Finance:  Waynflete’s LifeSmarts Team Competes at Nationals in Seattle

Seattle Skyline

For the 3rd year in a row, Waynflete’s LifeSmarts Team represented Maine in the LifeSmarts Nationals Competition, held April 17-20 in Seattle, Washington.  This well done short video is about the Maine Finals – it includes part of the final match where you can see the kids in action.

ScoreWaynflete got off to a great start by finishing 2nd in the nation in the 1st round of competition, which was to produce a PSA about one of the LifeSmarts topics.  This was especially tough to do as 50% of the points for the video came from the number of views, and, well, our school and state are not exactly the most populous.  It took a real community effort and our team is grateful.  At the competition, we started off in good form during the sister team (Georgia) round and then through the individual assessments.  We were ranked 11th heading into match play.  We won our first match, which happened to be against our sister team, and just lost to a strong Arizona team in our next match.

After those rounds the Top 16 teams advance into a single elimination tournament.  There were a few tense moments and then we heard it, “#13 seed Maine will play #4 seed Michigan.”  YAY – we made the round of 16!  That was especially interesting for team member Alex Lambert ’15 who is originally from Michigan.  In the end, Michigan was too much for us and our road came to an end.  But Michigan went on to the final four, so we know we were in good company.

LifeSmarts is a valuable competition for many reasons.  The five skill areas that the program features are very important, of course, but what is also important is how the competition gives students a chance to stretch themselves, to take risks, to meet peers from other schools and states, and to learn to work as a team, under pressure, toward a common goal.

LS TeamThis year’s team included Sam Frederick ’15, who shared his thoughts about last year’s competition in this USNOW article.  The team also included seniors Stephen Epstein and Alex Lambert, junior Christian Rowe, and sophomore Emily Tabb.  While Stephen and Alex had some connection to the activity through fellow senior Sam, for Emily and Christian it took some courage to sign up.  In fact, Emily and I had never even met before until she approached me about joining.  That says a lot about our community, but it also says something about Emily.

LifeSmarts gave me the opportunity to learn things that I hadn’t been taught before, and I learned a lot just by taking the tests and watching the competitions. I was able to learn valuable lessons in personal finance, technology, consumer rights, health and safety and environment. It was really fun meeting all the other teams at the national competition and getting to spend time in Seattle was an added bonus. I also learned teamwork, verbal communication, and leadership skills.  At the time I didn’t really see joining the team as a risk, probably because there was not much of a penalty; anyone can sign up and take the tests, and the top five scores go, so if you aren’t in the top five, then it is no big deal. Looking back I guess it was somewhat of a risk because I was doing something that I knew little to none about, and it wasn’t really with people that I knew very well. – Emily Tabb ‘17

I’ll finish up by including a very nice essay written by Christian Rowe ’16.  For Christian, she not only learned about the topics, but she also confronted a personal challenge and discovered a passion for a specific field.  Planning is already under way for LifeSmarts 2016.  Interested students should connect with me in the fall.

LifeSmarts has taught me skills that I’ll carry for the rest of my life. First, I have gained knowledge that will aid me as I become more independent. I have learned about consumer responsibility and about organizations and laws that protect us. I have learned what laws deceive us, and what right we have to object to these acts of deception. I have learned many things on personal finance, ranging from the governmental law on minimum age, to W-2 forms. I have learned how to be a secure and smart employee. I have learned how to heighten my environmental consciousness and become a responsible environmental citizen, and how to aid someone who is choking or having an allergic reaction. All these are skills specifically derived from the tests. After studying and being exposure to the competition, I have picked up so much applicable information that I feel lacks in the schooling experience.

LS Team2The two things that I am the most grateful for acquiring after LifeSmarts are the ability to trust my instincts and from the information itself, which has grown to something much greater than the competition. I lack confidence, especially in a timed, pressured situations. LifeSmarts forces you to think and process quickly, or you will be beaten to the buzzer. I constantly hit the buzzer a few seconds after my opponent. I left my brain thinking of reasons why I could be wrong, instead of trusting my instincts. Second, I discovered my liking for Environmental Law and Responsible Investing. As a freshman in Finance Club, I never thought it would grow into anything. But it evolved into taking the LifeSmarts tests this year, using knowledge of environmental sciences and the financial aspects that I had acquired over the years in Finance Club. After taking those risks, I was honored enough to be able to compete in the Maine State final. Then I was I able to travel to Seattle, Washington, along with my teammates, to compete and have an amazing experience in a beautiful state. But mostly I learned what I love the most.

Next year I will be doing an independent study on The Economics of Socially Responsible Investing. I am doing this only because as a Freshman I took the risk to join a club, in which I knew little about the topic. I grew to be more knowledgeable about the topic. After gaining confidence, I again pushed my comfort zone, joining the Lifesmarts team. But not only did I succeed, but I was able to learn about topics that I loved the most. It is a great opportunity to grow, to push my boundaries, and to traverse beyond my comfort zone.