New LifeSmarts team participates in national competition


In a student’s life, academics and information learned in a classroom setting often take priority over more practical life skills. The LifeSmarts team at DePaul Prep aims to prepare students for life outside the classroom through learning about relevant topics such as online safety, marketing, money management, and careers.

“It’s very relevant to real life, and demystifies the subjects,” says founder and moderator, DePaul Prep teacher Melissa Flynn.

Through resources found on the official website, LifeSmart team members learn about five different categories of information, including environment, finances, consumer rights, health and safety, and technology. 

Flynn says she was introduced to LifeSmarts through the curriculum of her own class, which referenced it. When she pursued that reference further, Flynn “thought this was stuff everyone should know,” and was inspired to bring a chapter of the organization to DePaul Prep.

After learning about these topics, students participate in a “Jeopardy style” competition where they can compete and share their knowledge with others. At the national level competition in Cincinnati, Ohio, the DePaul Prep team placed 17th out of 42 teams after winning a wild card bid.

The competition was “a really fun way to test all the knowledge we learned throughout the year and work collectively as a team,” according to sophomore team member Sophia Lee.

LifeSmarts falls under the category of an academic team, according to Dean of Student Activities and Student Life Chris Petersen, meaning it has “higher expectations and requirements” than a typical club. However, this also means that members have an opportunity to compete and go beyond DePaul Prep in their experiences.

Despite the brand new status of the team, they were “the first DePaul Prep academic team to be sent to a national level competition,” according to Petersen. The club earned a bid through the “wild card system” and was able to send one team of four students to compete in Cincinnati. The national competition team included seniors Amir Baddi, Karol Czajko, and Declan Worrell, as well as junior Joe Flynn. 

A typical club meeting involves quizzing each other on learned information or practice competitions with buzzers.

“We have a lot of fun with it, actually,” said Flynn.

All of the resources used by LifeSmarts are available for free to students online at Materials include flashcards, practice quizzes, and more.

As the club grows, Flynn says she wants to expand the size of the program to include more teams and more students.

“Making it back to nationals” is a big goal of the team, since it was a “great experience,” according to Flynn.

She also wants the club’s topics to be incorporated into the general curriculum through the class she teaches, Sustainable Food Systems and Culinary Arts. This would bring the knowledge and skills from the club to students who might not have been interested in joining.

Flynn hopes that “any student interested in joining reaches out,” because the club creates a fun way for students to gain valuable life experience and knowledge.

The skills taught in LifeSmarts are ones that everyone will need at some point in life, so why not learn them now?

(Anyone interested in joining the club can reach Ms. Flynn at [email protected].)