Tonawanda News — Middle school students from across Western New York were asked to envision “Tomorrow’s Transit: Design A Way to Move People in and Around Your City” at the regional finals of the Future City competition hosted at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore Jan. 25.
Two area schools were among the 15 schools entered in the competition, St. Francis of Assisi in the City of Tonawanda and St. Christopher’s School in the Town of Tonawanda.
Preliminary judging started at 10 a.m. with a panel of engineers checking each display and questioning each school’s team. Each team had to present an essay on the topic prior to the final judging day.
About 200 students and parents attended the event.
St. Francis school was selected as one of the five finalists and in an afternoon session in the auditorium, showed the Future City model, presented a narrative and answered questions from the panel of judges before the audience.
St. Francis finished second winning $1,000 for the school. First place was awarded to the Alternative School for Math and Science in Corning.
In addition, St. Francis received three special awards.
Most inspiring essay/city narrative sponsored by Daemen College won $200. The MSM students favorite award brought the school $100.
The school also placed third in Best Land Surveying Practices, sponsored by National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.
Mark Bajorek, a project manager at Parsons Brinckerhoff, a multinational engineering and design firm with offices in Buffalo, was the engineer-mentor for St. Francis. He has helped the St. Francis Future City team since 1996.
St. Francis team members are Cade Mongielo, Jacob Neumeister and Favorlyn Kpaka, who presented the project, and Alex Patkalitsky Maddie Sowinski, Charlie DeRose, Adam Gorski, Lillie Strusienski, Connor Wolbert, Thomas McMahon, Brian Dyell, Kaitlyn Annunziata, Raymond Mezydio, Trevor Davis and Josh Grass.
“Future City was a fun experience,” Gorski said. “I learned a lot about engineering. It taught me the importance of team work. Our team worked hard and it was worth it.”
Schools from Swormville, Williamsville, Lake Shore, Lewiston, Clarence, Corning, Town and City of Tonawanda and Buffalo competed.
Patricia Misso, who teaches middle school social studies and computers, is adviser to the Future City team.
“We have participated for more 18 years, and have been in the regional finals for 17 of those years” Misso said. “St. Francis School made it to the national competition twice. We placed fourth place, then second in the nation. We are the little school that can.
“We are so blessed to have the concept of STREAM already incorporated into our curriculum, and to be part of a competition that embodies those ideals. We didn’t just build a bridge, we designed a whole city,” she added.