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JHS LifeSmarts ready for nationals

The Jamestown High School Team No. 1, shown here with its awards after winning the state LifeSmarts championship in Bismarck, includes from left, coach Marchel Krieger, Jessica Vandal, team captain Kelsey Becker, Andrew Briedenbach, Zach Fossen and Alex Igl. The team will compete at the national competition this weekend. File / N.D. Attorney General’s Office

Jessica Vandal said she is looking forward to competing with the Jamestown High School LifeSmarts team at the national championship starting Saturday in Orlando, Florida.

Vandal, along with Kelsey Becker, Alex Igl, Andrew Briedenbach and Zach Fossen, will leave the Jamestown High School parking lot at 11 p.m. Friday in a van with team coach Marchel Krieger and travel to Minneapolis, where the team will catch an 8 a.m. flight to Orlando.

“That is going to be a fun night,” Vandal said.

LifeSmarts is a program started by the National Consumers League. Students study five topics; consumer rights and responsibilities, the environment, health and safety and personal finance and technology. The students form teams that first compete online to become eligible to compete in state competitions. State champions go on to compete in the national championships.

This is the fifth consecutive year that a JHS team has won the North Dakota championship.

Becker is the team captain, and this is her third time being part of the JHS team competing at the national championship. She said the team members have been focusing on financial-based questions for the national championship. Becker said the national LifeSmarts organization does post questions on its Facebook page the week leading up to national competition, and many of those questions have been financial based.

Vandal said they have also focused on the financial questions due to the fact that the man who reads the questions at the national championship, Herb Weisbaum, has a website called “Consumerman,” where he posts videos and stories about consumer and financial matters.

Vandal and Becker said that while they are looking forward to the competition, they will also enjoy some side trips during their down time.

“We want to go to Universal Studios,” Vandal said. “We have a lot of Marvel and Harry Potter fans.”

Becker said the team members have been practicing for about an hour after school since winning the state championship in February. The team has also held fundraisers, including a silent auction on Feb. 25 that raised $1,000.

Igl said the LifeSmarts program at JHS couldn’t function without donations and support from the community.

Krieger said this year’s team has the ability to win the national championship, as have past JHS LifeSmarts teams.

“It all comes down to us just worrying about what we are doing,” he said. “We don’t need to worry about the other teams we will be facing. If we concentrate on ourselves, we should do fine.”

To follow the JHS Life-Smarts team, go to www.lifes

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454                           or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454