Competitions like Future Problem Solving allow academically talented students the opportunity to showcase their creative skills.” (www.fpspi.org) Ms. Marianne Solomon, FPSPI executive director stated, “The conference features outstanding creative problem solving champions from around the world. While the primary focus is the competition, the International Conference also provides you with many unique opportunities.”
This year’s students attending the conference had the chance to meet students from various cultures. Presently FPSPI serves students in the following countries: Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Georgia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and most states within the USA. Among those attending this year’s international competition were six students from Peach County High School. Peach County High School middle division Global Issues booklet writing team of Sarah Choi, Jessica Kelly, Stephania Lopez, and Daelan Smith along with MAGIC (Multi-Affiliate Global Issues Competition) competitors Kemoye Caldwell-Latimore and Emaji Oliver. These students joined over 2,300 students at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse on June 8, 2017, for four days of intense competition and fun! Attending with the PCHS students were Ms. Shaniqua Caldwell and Mrs. Mary Jean Banter (coach).
The adventure began at 4:30 AM on Thursday, June 8th in the PCHS teachers’ parking lot as P.O. Bert drove the group to the Atlanta airport. Next came an airplane flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul, which was the first trip on a plane for at least one of the group. Then it was the first trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin for most. After a 2.5 hour trip from the airport to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, the PCHS group began to settle in for a “jam packed” few days. Thursday night began the competition with the opening ceremony and the last minute reviews for the first part of the competition on Friday morning.
Saturday began with the final round of the presentations of action plans so that the students could get tips for their next year’s competition. Then they began an over an hour practice time for the variety show. Our PCHS students practiced with students from Ohio, Virginia, and China. One of the requirements to qualify for the variety show is that there must be students from more than one affiliate. Next came the audition and the five- hour suspense to discover whether they had made the “cut” to perform. While waiting to hear if they made the variety show, the students went to Grandad Bluff and Riverside Park, where they saw the Mississippi River. Once PCHS group received the “you made the show” text, the PCHS students had to practice a little more before the variety show began. A great thing about the variety show is that it was on live streaming so the PCHS students’ parents were able to watch their children’s performances. After the variety show, the group attended a FPSP dance.
Once again, Sunday was a full day with the closing ceremony. Our Global Issues team (Choi, Kelly, Lopez, and Smith) received ranks of three and six (average 4.5) from the judges in their samples, Caldwell-Latimore received ranks of seven and eight (average 7.5) from the judges, and Oliver received ranks of three and seven (average of 5) from the judges. At the closing, four of our students were flag bearers, which was a special way to end the ceremony. Then the group packed up and headed back to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where they toured the Mall of America. All were amazed with the amusement park, LegoLand, and aquarium besides all of the shops for “window shopping.” Monday ended the trip with a short time to the outlet mall before the start back to Georgia. As the students reflected on their trip, they were pleased with their performances in the various competitions, thrilled with meeting the many students from other countries and states, and thankful for all of their “first” time experiences. Moreover, the PCHS students began planning for the next year’s competition and qualifying to compete once again on the international level.
The PCHS FPSP students and adults working with them would like to thank the supportive Georgia and Peach County communities for supporting them in this endeavor. These sponsors gave these PCHS students a “once in a lifetime” experience that will give them determination to achieve their best in their academic pursuits.