Central High Students win at International Conference
The Central High School Team competed the weekend of June 7th – 9th at the International Future Problem Solving Conference held at the Indiana University campus, Bloomington, Indiana. Robert Adams, Andrew Donaldson, Cindy Jiang, Elsa Kunz, Carston Roach, and Monica Yang attended the competition under the guidance of SJSD teacher, Deb Ballin , and parent/assistant coach, Elaine Adams. The students represented St. Joseph and the state of Missouri at the conference by winning first place at the Missouri contest held in March. These students problem solved issues related to pharmaceuticals, especially pharmacogenomics and its global distribution.
The International Future Problem Solving Conference participants came from over forty states and represented over ten countries. Australia, China, Korea, New Zealand, Malaysia, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were among these countries. Over two thousand students representing more than one hundred and seventy-five writing teams, individual writers, Community Problem Solving teams, and scenario writers were present. Central students joined other Problem Solvers in a community service project to benefit the host city of Bloomington; together they donated over six thousand pounds of food to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a local food pantry.
Global Issues Problem Solving is a futuristic competition in which students identify the challenges in a scenario, select the underlying problem, brainstorm possible solutions to that problem, evaluate them with a set of self-written criteria, and write an action plan to address the underlying problem – all within a two-hour time constraint. Team member Carston Roach said, “Problem Solving has allowed me to develop my own creativity. I have learned about a variety of pressing topics and how to proactively address problems in my everyday life.”
In addition to the difficulty of the competition in general, students in the Multi-Affiliate Competition met their team members from other states and countries approximately fifteen minutes before competing. Andrew Donaldson teamed with students from Kentucky, Nebraska and Ohio; this senior division team won third place. Cindy Jiang also competed in this division. She said of the Multi-Affiliate Competition, “I loved being able to work with people that I have never met before! It helped us cross cultural barriers and work together towards a common goal.”
The Central students received the Fifth Place Trophy out of sixty-three teams in the Presentation of Action Plan competition. This competition is designed to demonstrate how well the students creatively communicate their action plan. Students are given approximately three hours to prepare a four-minute performance. The students are allowed to use a limited number of materials in the construction of props and costumes. Since all sixty-three qualified in state or national competitions, the Central students placed above the 99th percentile of all competing students to win the fifth place award. Team member Andrew Donaldson said that the presentation, “allows us to really use what we have been learning through Problem Solving. This is a fun way to perform and share your action plan with others! Parodying songs is one of the most fun parts! It is really awesome watching our presentation develop from nothing and seeing what the other teams create.”
Janet Fite, a teacher in the Middle School GATE program with the St. Joseph School District, is a coach for the students. She also serves as a Director for Missouri Problem Solving, an International
Evaluator, and a Policy Co-chair for the Board of Trustees. Janet said, “These students have challenged me to become a better teacher. I know that participating in problem solving will help them succeed in future endeavors.”
Sue Wagner, a SJSD school board member and a former FPS director, received the John Daughtrey Award, a special adult award recognizing her dedication to problem solving. She has served as a coach, an Affiliate Director, and a Personnel Chair for the Board of Trustees. Deanna Judah, a Central High School graduate, an International Evaluator, and a former student of Mrs. Wagner, accepted the award on her behalf stating, “She has been a constant friend and mentor.”