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JHS LifeSmarts team hopes to strike gold at nationals this weekend

From left, Chris Dupre, Colton Carlson, Leo Fremgen, Courtnay Kiecker and Julia Shirley, not pictured, make up the Jamestown High School LifeSmarts team that will represent North Dakota at the National LifeSmarts Championship this weekend in Denver. JOHN M. STEINER | THE SUN

Five Jamestown High School students are hoping for one thing when they step on the stage at the National LifeSmarts Championship competition this weekend in Denver. They want a poster in Marchel Krieger’s classroom to be replaced.

Krieger, the coach of the JHS LifeSmarts team and government/economic teacher at JHS, put a poster up in his classroom of a team he previously coached that took home silver, which was second place, at the championship six years ago.

The only way the poster will be replaced, Krieger said, is when a new team strikes gold at the championship.

“Mr. Krieger is a great coach, and I love winning,” said Chris Dupre, sophomore at JHS and LifeSmarts team member.

Krieger said a LifeSmarts team consists of five high school students and they compete in what is essentially a “team ‘Jeopardy!’” at competitions. The team consists of all sophomore students. Team members consist of Dupre, Courtnay Kiecker, Leo Fremgen, Colton Carlson and Julia Shirley.

At a competition, teams are asked questions in five different categories: personal finance, health and safety, technology, consumer rights and environment. Each student tends to have a specialty in a specific category, Krieger said, which can add to the team’s overall success.

The JHS LifeSmarts team that is heading to nationals won the right to do so in February at the North Dakota LifeSmarts competition held in Bismarck. The team went head to head with four of nine teams at the state competition before taking home the winning title. Of the four teams the sophomores competed against at the state competition, one was another JHS team, which consisted of upperclassmen.

“They (both teams) had to play each other in the head-to-head round, and they (the sophomore team) doubled their (the upperclassmen’s) score,” Krieger said.

Kiecker said beating out the senior team at the state competition was “intense” and “bittersweet.”

“We ended up doing a lot better than I think we thought we would,” she said.

Thirty-two teams will compete at the national championship this weekend, according to the LifeSmarts website. Thirty teams represent different states, and one team represents Family Community Career Leaders of America and another team represents Future Business Leaders of America.

The national competition starts Saturday night. The competition could go through Tuesday, Krieger said, depending on how well the team does in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

The team practices two to three times a week for about an hour, Krieger said. Team members practice answering questions from previous years, study their specialties and have fun, he said.

“Everyone is really fun to practice with, these are cool people,” Kiecker said.

Krieger said the team also assembles members for the next school year in the spring, which gives them the opportunity to practice throughout the year leading up to the state competition.

“Practice makes perfect,” he said.

Krieger holds faith that his team will do well at the national competition this weekend.

“These are good kids. I’d put them up against anyone, and they’re having fun … that’s what’s important,” he said.

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