Monday, January 27, 2014
How else to describe it? The Aiken Area Home Educators team is headed back to the Future.
After winning the S.C. Regional Future City competition at USC Aiken on Saturday, three home-schoolers – eighth-graders John Potvin and Ryan Hoyle and seventh-grader Sophie King – will travel to Washington, D.C., for the national contest next month. The Home Educators also won the 2013 regionals to earn the nationals trip.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center sponsor the program annually. Fourteen other organizations sponsored additional awards for which all 34 teams from 16 schools were eligible.
The Paul Knox Middle School team took second place in the regionals, and LBC Middle School received a fifth-place honorable mention award. One of five St. Mary on the Hill teams from Augusta finished third in the engineering-based program.
John Potvin competed with the 2013 team, too, and the Washington, D.C., trip “was an amazing experience last year,” he said. “It’s going to be great to go back again.”
The Paul Knox students – Abbi Fralick, Duncan Crowder and Eddie Burch – worked hard to become one of the three finalists. Last year’s team missed third place by 0.2 points. The current squad has a mentor in Matt Bodine. Duncan considers Abbi a mentor too, as she is the only returnee from 2013. The team coach is teacher Amanda Davis.
Her experience, Abbi said, “helped us with the questions the judges asked. It gets sort of intense.”
When he heard the school’s name called, eighth-grader Bryce Chapman leaped to his feet in delight. Right behind him were teammates Hannah Primsoe and Kaitlyn Wall. At that moment, teacher-coach Gabrielle Morgan was loading up a Future City scale model of a city, and “I just got chills,” she said. “I thought they had already finished the awards.” The team was joined for a formal photo by mentor Gwen Kaney.
The Home Educators team is led by coach Jill Potvin and mentor, Larry Morris. Before the finalists made presentations, Morris said whether the students won or not, he knew they would do their best. And their best turned out to be a winner.
“These children are fantastic, and I enjoy spending time with them,” Morris said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Two Kennedy Middle School teams competed, and New Ellenton Middle School had a team too. The Kennedy team “Crystal Sands,” had players Dawson Johnson, Alex Hansen and Ryan Conner. The “Astrape” squad members wee Conner Sprinkle, Corey Glenn and Jaret Price. Teacher Melissa Kidd coached both teams.
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.
He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.