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Hawaii teacher from ‘Iolani High School named 2012 LifeSmarts Coach of Year

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For release: May 17, 2012
Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC—The Board of Directors of the National Consumers League has announced the outstanding teacher, student, and volunteer coordinator of the 2011-2012 season with its annual “Of the Year” awards. Coach James Rubasch, a math and personal finance teacher at ‘Iolani High School in Honolulu, HI, was named the 2012 Coach of the Year, nominated by his students for his enthusiastic support and motivation. A student from Texas and the Kansas State Coordinator took the other awards.

LifeSmarts is a program run by the Washington, DC-based NCL, the nation’s oldest consumer advocate. It competitively tests high school students’ knowledge of consumer awareness, with subjects including personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights and responsibility, technology, and the environment. The 2011-2012 LifeSmarts season recently came to a close with the national competition in Philadelphia, PA, in April, where the NCL Board of Directors honored deserving individuals for their exemplary work and commitment to the program.

In his third year coaching LifeSmarts teams from Hawaii, Rubasch was nominated by his students for pushing them to learn LifeSmarts materials both for the competition and for the knowledge itself and for his emphasis on encouraging good sportsmanship.

Rubasch’s belief in the program’s value is apparent: “Lifesmarts is valuable for all young people.  All of the categories have critical information that help young people understand the world around them,” he said. “I would like to see it expand to more schools in our state and across the country. It begins with the adults - because the kids love it.”

“James is one of those LifeSmarts coaches whose success in making it to the National Championship is clearly due to his enthusiasm for and dedication to the program – and the way he uses that to motivate his students,” said Lisa Hertzberg, LifeSmarts Program Director.

2012 Coordinator of the Year: Angela Howdeshell, Kansas

Angela Howdeshell, with the Kansas Council on Economic Education, has been named the 2012 LifeSmarts Coordinator of the Year for her long-standing commitment to growing the program in her state. Howdeshell, who has been with LifeSmarts since 1999, has grown her program to be one of the states with the highest participation rate. Her annual state competition is an exciting event, and she adopted the Junior Varsity program when LifeSmarts launched it in 2007.

“We have now had students who have participated in LifeSmarts since 6th grade.  It has been fun seeing some of these students grown up and become great LifeSmarts fans,” said Howdeshell, who says her current goal is to expand the Kansas program to have a presence in each of the state’s 105 counties.

“Howdeshell’s state champion coach has credited her with being ‘the reason LifeSmarts is alive and well in her state,’” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “It’s people like Angela who enable NCL’s LifeSmarts program to successfully rear a generation of consumer-savvy teenagers who often outsmart their parents on issues related to avoiding fraud, credit and debt, and complicated health care decisions."

2012 Student of the Year: Marissa Lozoya, FCCLA team

Marissa Lozoya, a junior from Friona High School in Friona, Texas, and captain of the national Family, Career and Community Leaders of America team, was selected as the 2012 Student of the Year at the National Championship in Philadelphia. Nominated by her coach as a leader on her team, in her FCCLA organization, and at her school, Lozoya was credited with organizing team practices, gathering research and study materials, and helping to spread the word about LifeSmarts to new audiences including her local school board and via workshops at an FCCLA leadership conference.

Lozoya says her three years participating in LifeSmarts has made her into the student she is today. Her determination and commitment to being successful in the competition has pushed her team towards success: “We decided as freshmen that we wanted to make it to Nationals. We finished second last year at the state contest and we were the runner-up in the FCCLA challenge,” said Lozoya. “We trained from the day school started until the day before we left for Philadelphia. We were happy that we qualified in the challenge.”

“Marissa stood out to judges as highly deserving of the 2012 Student of the Year award,” said Hertzberg. “She is a leader on her team, going above and beyond the role of captain. She has also been invited to join the LifeSmarts Student Advisory Board for the upcoming year, and we look forward to working with her and her coach Gayle Murdock, the FCCLA Advisor at Friona, in that capacity.”

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About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. For more information, visit: www.lifesmarts.org, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call the National Consumers League's communications department at 202-835-3323. The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.