Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Knowledge Nuggets Go to Nationals

Less than 18 hours after I touched down in the States, I was at the airport again.  This time, I was with my assistant coach, his wife, mother-in-law and daughter and our eight Acadec kiddos.  While it seemed like I was heading off for another weeklong vacation, I was anxious; you see, I was responsible for eight kids.  I’m kind of a control freak, and not being able to check that they had their dress clothes, their IDs, their food money and their study materials before they met me at the airport was horrifying! Would they be on time?  Would they all have their dress clothes and study materials?  Would they all have IDs? Add to that the fact that I was in a time zone seven hours different than the one I woke up in the day before, and I was just short of a hot mess. 


Touchdown in Hawaii
It turned out that aside from one forgotten pair of dress pants, all went smoothly, and we were wheels-down in Hawaii about 12 hours after we took off from Milwaukee.  The first day we were there, we put our mentor on the task of proctoring practice tests and checked in with the kids at predetermined checkpoints throughout the day.  That allowed us time by the pool, which I sure enjoyed.  Frozen cocktails would have been nice, but I settled for a smoothie and the sunshine.  Tough, I know. 


first morning in Hawaii - not a bad sight, not a bad sight at all! 


the beach at our village

Sun setting in paradise 

Thursday and Friday were competition days, so we were back and forth with the kids, taking them to various meeting points at the Hilton Waikiki Village, where we were staying.  Friday afternoon was the Super Quiz Relay, where the kids collaborated with their teammates, by category, to answer 10 multiple-choice questions in six different categories.  It was fun to watch, and they did really well, tying for first in that event (though it doesn’t count toward the overall team score).  As a wrap-up to the competition, we took the team for pizza Friday night and then gathered on the beach to watch fireworks.  I loved looking at my group of kiddos huddled together on the sand; they were making life-long memories, for sure!


Our seven competitors
(Ryan, Karcher, Alex, Apoorva, Brandon, Nikhita, and Joey)
and my right-hand man
(Nick)
Super Quiz Event (27 out of 30 correct!!) 

Saturday morning was the banquet, and though it was nearly 90 minutes longer than scheduled and though we were the very last table (of 85) to get our meal – not much left for us – we had fun and the sun to look forward to.  
all dressed up and ready for the banquet 

Sunday was a fun day, aside from the homework session we made them all partake in.  And Monday, our last day on the island, we toured Pearl Harbor, the Dole Plantation (pineapple ice cream is pretty tasty), the beaches of the North Shore and Diamond Head.  We were all pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel, cleaned up and headed to the airport.  It was a quiet travel day as we all did a lot of sleeping and studying before landing in Wisconsin.  There’s nothing like coming home to cool, rainy weather after a stay in the tropics….ick!


sunshine, the ocean, pools and fruity drinks = paradise
even if I was responsible for eight young people the whole time :) 



where we had our most fabulous meal (adults only)
and where I had a fabulous banana drink!  


Pearl Harbor 
the USS Arizona Memorial 
this visit was a powerful one


at the Dole Plantation, another stop on our excursion
we all enjoyed the pineapple ice cream

the North Shore 
me with my Acadec ladies
the beach where we all watched the sea turtles play 

I cannot believe we have been home for two full weeks now...it still feels like only yesterday we were arriving in paradise!  It was really great to see the kids come together as a little family during this trip.  They were truly a team as they ventured off to meals together, studied in the halls of the hotel and ran along the beach.  Though they didn’t place as high as they would have like, they were 7th in Division II (divisions are determined by school population), they were close when it came to overall scores.  It was a tough competition, and I know the team took away a few valuable lessons about tenacity, hard work and resilience from this, and I am happy with that.


my final images of Hawaii - the Hilton Hawaiian Village at night 

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