It really wasn’t a matter of whether they would win, but how much.
Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Future Problem Solvers had already made history before heading to the 2010 international competition at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, held through Sunday: three teams had qualified, the most of any school in the 36-year history of the competition, in addition to Taylor Tofal, a qualifier in the individual writing competition as well as in one of the teams. (Tofal was also FlaglerLive’s correspondent at the competition.)
- Taylor’s Journal, Day 1: Their Own World Cup
- Taylor’s Journal: Day Two
- Watch Taylor Explain Her Project on a Palm Coast TV Video (23 minutes in)
- The Competition’s Hour-By-Hour Schedule
- FPC’s Problem Solvers Make History
- Benefit Dinner for FPC’s Future Problem Solvers
- FPC Commencement Stirs Tassels and Circumstance
By the time they were done, the teams and Tofal had collected more awards — including three top awards — than any school (or state) had managed in the history of the competition. Among those was the competition’s highest honor: the E. Paul Torrance Beyonder Award, which is not necessarily awarded every year. A team or an individual must be beyond exceptional to earn it (hence the “Beyonder” in the award’s name).
FPC’s “The Faces of Autism” team was just that: beyond exceptional. The team included Brandon Smith, Ryan McDermott, Cullen Cino, Cameron Jacobs (Matanzas High), Vincent Scerbo and Michael Scerbo. They received a standing ovation from students worldwide for their passionate work with autism awareness. The project included a documentary and pragmatic ways for students and businesses to better understand autism and enable people with autism to function normally within their means. “The big part for me was being able to empower people with autism,” Vincent Scerbo had said before going to Wisconsin. Two of his cousins, who live in New Jersey, have autism.
Tofal won first place in the individual category for her “Cookbook Project,” designed to bring awareness to hunger in the world. Tofal was also part of the team that won third place in the global issues team-writing competition, which wrote on living green. That team consisted of Tofal, Vincent Scerbo, Clay Hausen and Emerick Larkin.
First place in the alternate writing competition went to Brandon Smith.
Second place for Community Problem Solving went to the “Cents and Sensibility” team, which had written and illustrated a book for children, among other educational tools, to explain the basics of personal finance to elementary age students. That team consisted of Wesley Adams, Brittany Eggum and Juan Flores.
And fourth place went to Project Boost, which consisted of Parin Majewski, Kayla Groth, Mia Pagliaricci and Taylor Tofal.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That’s a quote from Margaret Mead, the great anthropologist–and the quote Tomko chose to sum up her feelings about her group of Problem Solvers.
“Community Problem Solving teams showed the world what service learning through the creative problem solving process is all about as they gleaned more honors than any other school, state or country,” Tomko said. “The cultural exchange for all the participants was amazing… breath-taking. Our world class students honored our school district. As their coach and mentor, I was humbled and filled with pride for them.”
The Community Problem Solvers program was founded by E. Paul Torrance, a psychologist and creativity guru, in 1974. He died in 2003. He initiated the “Beyonder Award” (before it bore his name) to describe projects that “outdistance the others so far that they are not even on the same scale.” In the organization’s wording, the award, is bestowed on a team or individual Community Problem Solvers “who have demonstrated an exceptional depth, passion, and commitment in the project that goes above and beyond what would normally be expected of student(s) in the grade level division are considered for the Beyonder Award. ALL CmPS evaluators in all divisions will utilize the Beyonder rubric to determine the one Beyonder Award to be given to one Beyonder overall divisions; a Beyonder does not have to be awarded each year.”
In 2010, it belongs to Florida and Flagler Palm Coast High School’s A-team. The A, in this case, stands for autism.