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LifeSmarts program ends season with successful event in Philly

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2012 semi-finalists from Rhode IslandWhat a year! The 2012 LifeSmarts season has come to a close with the 2012 National LifeSmarts Championship in Philadelphia, where the student team from Frederick, MD was crowned national LifeSmarts champions. After an exciting final match against the second-place team from Jacksonville, FL, the teens from the Maryland Home Schoolers outscored their opponents and did it with great sportsmanship. Teams from Pennsylvania and Rhode Island placed third.

2012 LifeSmarts champions from MD with NCL's Sally Greenberg

"We are so proud of these students from Maryland, who represented their state program with class and pride," said LifeSmarts Program Director Lisa Hertzberg. "Three of the team members are seniors, and they were dedicated to going out on top – but not only did they compete well and demonstrate their consumer smarts throughout the four-day event, but they showed great sportsmanship as well. They are true LifeSmarts champions."

Teens from each of the 32 state champion teams represented at nationals competed as individuals, and the top five scorers received $300 scholarships from NCL. A record-setting three of this year’s five topic winners were from Arizona.

  • Environment: Morgan Maycumber, AZ
  • Personal Finance: Christopher Carsey, AZ
  • Health and Safety: Maura Taylor, MD
  • Consumer Rights and Responsibilities: Noah Shute, AZ
  • Technology: Nathaniel Anderson, TN

2012 LifeSmarts topic winners

Arizona Coach Jennifer Bearchell recalled her surprise at hearing three of her team members’ names called during the awards ceremony, noting that – although each team member had chosen a topic, studied it, and even presented it to his teammates at a special studying meet-up – they didn’t have much time to prepare, given that they didn’t know they were going to nationals until the end of February.

Bearchell credits her team’s success to their weeks of dedicated studying – one student brought flashcards to tennis practice so often that she expects his tennis teammates picked up some LifeSmarts knowledge – and to the support and encouragement from their team captain, Scott.

“A lot of credit for the team's success and motivation goes to him since he was such a driving force for the whole team,” said Bearchell. “I know there are so many students from other teams that have studied so hard themselves and missed the recognition of the top spot but have applied themselves and done their best.  Bravo to all of those students!  Your reward my be unseen now but you will reap the benefits in the future!”

At the closing Awards Ceremony in Philadelphia, NCL announced winners of the Student, Coach and Coordinator of the year awards, honoring outstanding participants in each category that were nominated by individuals and teams because of their dedication to the program and performance year after year.

Rubasch2012 Coach of the Year: James Rubasch, Hawaii

2012 Student of the Year: Marissa Lozoya, FCCLA team

2012 Coordinator of the Year: Angela Howdeshell, Kansas

“Howdeshell’s state champion coach has credited her with being ‘the reason LifeSmarts is alive and well in her state,’” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “It’s people like Angela who enable NCL’s LifeSmarts program to successfully rear a generation of consumer-savvy teenagers who often outsmart their parents on issues related to avoiding fraud, credit and debt, and complicated health care decisions."

LozoyaIn the 18 years that LifeSmarts has been educating high school and middle school teens on consumer issues, it has grown dramatically, with more than 3 million consumer questions answered at in the online competition during the 2011-2012 academic year.

At the 2012 Awards Ceremony, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden addressed the consumer savvy state teams and helped crown Maryland the 2012 National LifeSmarts Champions, applauding the state champion teams for "being so engaged and educated about your finances and how to be a good consumer and how to teach your brothers and sisters and classmates and sometimes your parents.”

HowdeshellBiden noted that, in his work as AG, his office deals with people who don’t feel empowered to fight back when they’re victimized by an unscrupulous company. “Behind the 10,000 or so complaints my office receives are, I’m confident, many times more citizens who don’t know what their rights are. That’s why what we do here is so critical, not just for young people but for old people,” said Biden.

After Biden’s remarks and awards to the top teams and individuals, students and coaches celebrated the successful event and viewed a slide show of photo memories. Those who missed the exciting action in Philadelphia can view team photos, event schedules, grid standings, and more at the official event blog.

To bring the closing ceremony to an end, and after much anticipation, NCL revealed the location of the 2013 National LifeSmarts Championship to a roomful of oohs and aahhs: Atlanta, Georgia.

See you there next year -- April 20-23, 2013!