RAY Ray High School's award-winning Lifesmarts team doesn't have any slackers.
The state champions are headed to the national competition in St. Louis on April 25, but only after three members of the team have first competed at the state speech competition.
"We had trouble finding a flight, but I think we've got that ironed out," said coach Bernadette Perdue. "They will leave the speech meet at 3:30 p.m. and will be on a plane to St. Louis by 4:30 p.m."
Brian Viall, Matt Perdue, and Daniel Johnson aren't 100 percent positive yet they'll be in the finals at the state speech contest, but they made it last year so their coach is planning ahead. Other team members are LeAndra Reinholdt and Samantha Heier.
The students won the state championship in Bismarck earlier this month.
Ray also had the state championship team last year. LeAndra Reinholdt, one of the members of the national team last year, remembers a competition filled with students from across the country. She remembers meeting lots of new people and watching other students compete and having a lot of fun.
In addition to speech, all of the members of the team are involved in other extracurriculars such as basketball, wrestling, serving as sports statisticians or singing in choir. The team members don't have time for after school jobs, but they are extremely dedicated to their schooling. Bernadette Perdue said some of the students take the "early bird" classes offered by the school to get additional classes into their curriculum.
It's that commitment to education that is probably responsible for Ray having the state Lifesmart champions the second year in a row. All of the classes the students have taken since junior high help them to answer questions related to the environment, financing, health and technology. Viall said the students are also studying hard on their own to bone up on the right answers for the national competition.
The team competition itself is set up a bit like a game show, with some questions requiring students to hit the buzzer ahead of someone on the opposing team when they know the answer to a question.
"It's almost like Jeopardy," said Viall.
Lifesmarts will help them down the road, not just in competition but, well, in life, they said.
"It definitely helps you a lot, gives you a lot of life skills," said Matt Perdue.
Bernadette Perdue, who is also Matt's mom, said the community was great about sending donations for the team to fly to the national competition last year.
"Last year we had to turn people away ... people were so generous," said Bernadette Perdue.
She said the team will also be doing some fundraising this winter and spring to help pay for their trip to St. Louis to the competition.
The students said sometimes they wish they weren't quite so busy, but they figure it will all be worth it in the end.