For months now School Board member Andy Dance has been flashing around a beam of a smile: two of his three children are in the thick of this year’s Future Problem Solvers competition, as is, incidentally, one of Superintendent Jacob Oliva’s daughters. They’ve been piling up successes: last week in Orlando Flagler County’s various teams of Community Problem Solvers, from four schools, collected 69 awards at the state championship. Many of them now move on to international competition in Michigan this summer.
“It was just an amazing event to highlight the amount of work that the students put into their writing and the community problem solving projects,” Dance told his colleagues on the school board Tuesday evening.
Out of the 69 awards, two were grand champions: Bunnell Elementary’s Project G.R.E.E.N– Sean Gilliam, Madelynn Oliva, Danny Wilcott, Jermaine Bucknor and Jackson McMillan—whose work was highlighted last December when a community garden grew out of a brownfield in Bunnell’s Housing Authority grounds. And Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Project Link, the renovation of the school’s media center into a “learning commons,” highlighted in February with a commemoration. That team consisted of Kayla Dance, Sarah Dance, Judy Colindres, Vashti Malvoisin and Ivana Moore.
Rymfire, FPC, Indian Trails and Bunnell Elementary were represented in Orlando. See the complete list of winners here. Twenty Bunnell students, one Indian Trails student and several from FPC are headed to international competition June 1-5 at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
But now the schools are “in a flurry” of fund-raising, Dance said: it costs about $1,000 a person to get to international competition. “Feel free to visit the website, we’re in dire need of some corporate sponsors, it’d be great if some businesses or individuals could step up to the tune of $500 or $1,000 to take a big chunk. We would love to be able to work with people on repetitive donations so that we can at least avoid the rush of fund-raising each year.”
One of the fund-raising methods, of course, is the flocking, that sudden gaudy invasion of pink flamingoes on residents’ lawns (usually planted there overnight by Dance and his team of rascals) that not only invites the homeowner to make a donation but allows for the homeowner to flock additional lawns for a few extra dollars. Colleen Conklin, who chairs the school board—and is Irish—insisted, for reasons inexplicable, that green and blue flamingoes should be added. It’s also possible to “buy insurance” against getting one’s lawn being flocked. (You can start flocking your friends and neighbors now from the comfort of your home: here’s the form, or see below. You’ll get a photo of the flocked lawn within hours of the invasion.)
Dance stressed that problem solving goes beyond competition, nurturing skills the students will use the rest of their lives. He also maintains the problem solvers’ website, where he notes: “Let’s thank all our students for their amazing achievements and for representing Flagler Schools so professionally at the state conference. We are so proud of all our students that competed this year! Let’s also give our FPS coaches and chaperones a big round of applause and thanks for volunteering their time and allowing our students this opportunity to grow as scholars and compete against the brightest students in the state.”