When I talk to some of my CybperPatriot competitors about the National Finals, they only think of one school. I think one of the hardest things to do as a teacher is to instill a sense of values and the importance of fair play and have it proven that sometimes cheaters get ahead. As we were on our second trip to the national finals we were placed next to a school from the LA Unified School District. We were given an hour to set up our work area and get ready for the competition. We had a strong team and it was known that we had good skills but in this type of environment in a large ballroom teams should be equal. There was only one important rule for the set-up time, the coaches were not allowed inside of the competition area and the kids had to do it themselves. When we got to our station we were on the very end so there was no team to our right. The LA Unified team was to our left. The kids started to set things up and I glance over at the other team, since I wasn’t able to be in the curtained area for competition, and saw their coach setting everything up and the kids just watching. I strolled over to the tournament competition director and just asked about the rule of no coaches in the competition area. As I was asking the question I was looking at LA Unified and he got my hint and went over and told him to leave the competition area and stay outside of the ropes. Over the course of the next hour, they had to ask him 2 more times.
One of the important pieces was the chart paper on a stand so that teams could work things out as a group and talk over strategies with a visual aid. Our kids had set theirs on the left side of the area and just through the curtained area to the next team. Most teams were so busy working that they never even noticed what was going on around them. As the competition started I saw that they had one member stationed next to the curtain and just on the other side was our chart paper and working area. I will now admit to one piece of unfair play on my part. As I continued to watch their team member stand and listen to our team and scurry back to their group I got angry. I stared at the notepad hard and when one of my kids looked over, I moved my eyes to the other side of the work area. It took two times for them to understand but they moved it. After that time, their team member stayed by the curtain for a few minutes and looked back to his teammates and shrugged his shoulders, and shook his head. The end result was that we did not win but we were in fourth. The LA Unified team withered at the end and finished just one place higher than we did. I can only imagine how they would have done without help. There were a couple of areas where we scored high against the red team but we were very happy with our showing. There will be another story of the part of the competition that we did win on that trip. Tomorrow is an in-service day and Monday is a holiday so I will see you back on the 21st of February.