Flagler County’s nearly 60 community problem solvers accomplished at this year’s international competition what their predecessors have almost every year for more than half a decade: they cleaned up in wins, trophies and plaudits.
Leading the way, Bunnell Elementary won first place in the Team Global Issues competition, out of 52 teams, in a team made up of Karissa Jackson, Kenneth Logan, Michael Mwaura and Hope Romaine. They were coached by Jennifer Colindres. And Bunnell’s Community Problem Solving team was the grand champion for the junior division, in all divisions, for its Project H.O.P.E., a team made up of Romaine, Jackson, Christina Courson and Isabella Miller and Carmella Sweeney.
Still from Bunnell, Project GREEN (Maddie Oliva, Jermaine Bucknor, Sean Gilliam, Danny Wolcott and jackson McMillan) won second place, while Maddie Oliva won first place for the MAGIC writing competition and Isabella Colindres won second place.
Of the 19 Bunnell Elementary students who advanced to international competition, 14 placed as winners.
Video: Savannah Umpenhour Carries The U.S. Flag[media id=407 width=450 height=350]
“I look back at our gang-our Flagler county cream and I was just bursting with joy and pride,” Abby Romaine, Hope’s mother, who traveled with the teams, texted as soon as she returned to Flagler. “The Flagler group is not just wicked smart, passionate about learning and industrious but also kind, caring, fun and compassionate! What a winning combination! My daughter has the privilege of being a part of that group and then to top it off, represent Flagler as a Grand champ in two events–well, I cried!” (Romaine credited Bunnell’s success to Colindres, the teacher and coach, whom she described as “the best teacher ever and all-around fabulous human being.”)
Some 60 students from Flagler Palm Coast High School, Bunnell Elementary School, Rymfire Elementary School and Indian Trail Middle School competed at the annual event, this year held at Michigan State University in East Lansing. They faced teams from the United States and 10 other countries, with Savannah Umpenhour the flag bearer for the United States during opening ceremonies. She was previously announced as a semifinalist for the organization’s “Creating the Future” scholarship.
The keynote speaker of the opening ceremony was 2007 Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate and former problem solver competitor Alec Manfre. He spoke to the international crowd of his experience and how it has helped him start his own successful energy sector business. Forbes this year named Manfre to its 30 Under 30 list for energy companies in recognition of the innovative company he founded, Bractlet.
As a district release explained it, the Future Problem Solvers program is broken down into various competitions. In Team Global Issues, teams of four students are given a scenario in an imagined future. The teams are given two hours to find potential problems in the future scene and solve them. The Individual Global Issues competition is similar except just one student takes part.
In the MultiAffiliate Global Issues Competition (MAGIC), alternates from a school’s team are placed with others. They work similarly to the Team Global Issues teams, but they’ve never worked together before. The Scenario Writing Competition has students write a short story set 20 years in the future. These scenarios must be under 1,500 words and based on one of the year’s competition topics. These are written at home or school and then mailed for evaluation.
Scenario Performance competitors create a 45 minute long story, set at least 20 years in the future based on one of the Scenario Writing topics for that year. Students may not use any props, aids or notes.
Finally, Community Problem Solving (CmPS) encourages students to find and solve problems within their own community using the FPS process. At Internationals, these teams have three and a half hours to make a board highlighting their project. They must also go through a half-hour interview with a judge.
Here are the full results:
Team Global Issues: Bunnell Elementary, 1st Place (52 teams competed in the Junior Division); Karissa Jackson, Kenneth Logan, Michael Mwaura, Hope Romaine; coach: Jennifer Colindres.
MAGIC : (Junior Division, grades 46), Madelynn Oliva (BES) 1st Place, Isabella Colindres (BES) 2nd Place. (Middle Division, grades 79), Liam Dineen (FPCHS) 2nd Place. (Senior Division, grades 1012), Katia Martynuk (FPCHS) 3rd Place.
Team Scenario Writing : (Senior Division), Bayley Stienwehr (FPCHS) 2nd Place, Zaria George (FPCHS) 3rd Place
Scenario Performance: (Senior Division), Sasha Feldman (FPCHS) 2nd Place.
CmPS: (72 teams in junior, middle and senior divisions competed), Project H.O.P.E. (BES) Grand Champion for the junior division. The team made up of Christina Courson, Karissa Jackson, Isabella Miller, Hope Romaine and Carmella Sweeney (coached by Candice Bucknor and Jennifer Colindres) seeks to make the pediatric patient experience to the emergency room more comfortable (Helping Our Pediatric Experience).
Project GREEN (BES) 2nd Place (Junior Division), The Garden Raising Environmental Efficiency Network is Jermaine Bucknor, Sean Gilliam, Jackson McMillian, Madelynn Oliva and Daniel Wolcott. (coached by Jennifer Colindres and Christina Gilliam). Their goal is to educate students and families in Flagler County on how to sustain their own gardens and live a healthier lifestyle. (Their work was featured here.)
Project Street Talk (FPCHS) 3rd Place (Middle Division), Brian Cote, Gianna LaBarbera, Sarah Main, David McErlane and Michael Pierre (coached by Sarah Reckenwald and Diane Tomko) formed after multiple accidents involving students while either bicycling or walking. The team created a presentation they took to elementary schools and other public gatherings. They also were instrumental in making August 1519 as Pedestrian Cyclist Safety Week in Flagler
“It’s such an honor and privilege to advance to internationals,” Abby Romaine said. “And then at the opening ceremonies, you feel the magnitude of that privilege-watching the flag brigade from all the many countries and US states represented; looking up at the throngs of people in the stands-it was awe inspiring! The kids from China, the UK, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and the rest were the top in their respective countries-the cream of everyone’s young crop in one big auditorium.”
The public is invited to Bunnell Elementary School this evening, Tuesday, June 7 at 5:30. The school is hosting a Future Problem Solving Fair, featuring all of the teams and competitors. Follow the Future Problem Solvers of Flagler County at their website.
The following image gallery is contributed by Flagler County School Board member Andy Dance, who was on the trip.