DALLAS TWP. — “Surreal” and “dream-like” are the words members of the Dallas High School LifeSmarts team used to describe their win in the program’s national championship last week in Denver, Colorado.
The four-day competition was held April 9-12 and hosted by the National Consumer League. The event consisted of a series of individual and team competitions involving students answering questions about cyber security, credit reports, recycling, nutrition, consumer fraud and other life skills.
The Dallas High School five-student team earned the honor of top LifeSmarts team in the country as well as individual competition wins.
“We were told we were the best Pennsylvania team ever,” said Troy Reinert, a Dallas High School LifeSmarts team member.
Last year the Dallas team placed fourth in the national competition, said Kevin West, team coach.
This year the team consisting of Lauren Hudak, senior; Chris Biesecker, senior; Troy Reinert, junior; C.J. Good, junior; and Matt Metzloff, sophomore, was aiming for third place but wound up surprising themselves.
The team faced off against other student teams from Hawaii, Tennessee and Delaware. But the team they were concerned most with was from Jacksonville, Florida.
“The Florida team won first place back-to-back years,” West said.
The Dallas students went into the competition with the attitude of “what happens, happens,” he said.
Some questions they had to answer included: “What is the FTC?” (It’s the Federal Trade Commission) and “What does F.D.I.C. mean?” (The answer is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.)
The Dallas team won the final match with a score of 145 to 125, West said.
“I knew mathematically we won,” Reinert said.
Hudak said she was physically shaking after the intense competition.
“They are the closest team I ever had,” West said. “After watching the other teams, our students were not as critical of one another as the other teams were.”
In the individual competitions, Hudak placed fourth in the Environmental category; Biesecker won first place in the area of Technology; Reinert placed second in Personal Finance; Good was third in Consumer Rights, and Metzloff placed second in Health and Safety.
Biesecker was one of five competing students nationwide who earned a $500 scholarship from the National Consumer League. Each member of the Dallas High School LifeSmarts team also earned a $1,500 scholarship from the National Consumer League.
West, along with Donna Mancuso from Crosby High School in Connecticut, were named LifeSmarts Coaches of the Year.
The students and their families went out to dinner April 12 to celebrate their win.
On April 13, the students returned home and was surprised when a fire truck brigade met the returning bus at Offset Paperback Manufacturers Inc., on Memorial Highway in Dallas and led them to the Dallas High School. The team members found out later the school watched the competition and was rooting for them.
“I was surprised to see their enthusiasm for an academic competition,” Reinert said.
“Everything worked out perfectly,” West said. “We have to thank the Dallas Foundation for providing the money for the students’ trip, the families, the Dallas High School student body and faculty for their support.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.