Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rewarding trip closes . . .

I missed last night as it was late and we had to be up and ready early this morning. Where to start? With the good news! Our Unit 5 received the honor for having the highest two day total of any other unit in the competition. The not so good news was that we did not receive any other honors at last night's awards banquet that was followed by another dance. I was lucky on both dance nights to go back to the room with those not wanting to stay. Thanks Heath and Austin for making that possibe.

Yesterday, Thomas, Amy and I had the opportunity to view three units from Alabama in the finals. I was impressed with their performance, but not necessarily with their knowledge. They did not cite court cases or documents during the longer question and answer format like our units did. Neither were they more articulate individually or collectively. All the time that I was watching and listening it became more clear to me that I could have been in my suit watching our team in place of Alabama who ended up taking fourth in the nation. It was at the same time my best and worst moment of the trip. Best, because it confirmed for me that our team was good enough to be in the top ten. Worst, because they were technically as good or better than Alabama and did not reach their goals. There must be some balance between demonstrating knowledge, creating a conversation, and conveying passion that we need to find to break that formidable barrier of top ten.

On a much more positive note, we were able this morning to visit with Representative Reichert. He gave the kids an hour of his time answering their questions, sharing his beliefs, and taking us through his office window onto his "balcony" for pictures. He had an impact on all of us and I, for one, was very thankful for this commitment of time that he gave to our kids.

We experienced technical problems at the airport making it impossible to make our connecting Chicago flight. Gretchen was able to work with the airline to place 18 of us on a flight to Denver for a connecting flight to Seattle. This was very important as a number of our young people have an AP Calculus test tomorrow. The rest of the team will spend one more night on United's dime and will catch a departing flight at 6 in the morning.

As I watched Gretchen work through this latest issue it reaffirmed for me the quality of person she is. She remained calm as she has shown on the entire trip and focused solely on meeting the needs of those students showing stress about the test. She is teacher, mentor, friend, confidante, motivator, and supporter of our young people and this team. We are so very fortunate that she has chosen to share her experience and commitment with Tahoma students.

We made it to Denver and are now waiting for our flight home. I'll share more tomorrow or the next day.

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