September is a great month

Both Ann and I wrote about our time in Washington, D.C.  It is a little over a week since the X Prize final announcement and only six days left for the Ecomagination voting period.  Below are some little thoughts of mine for your Saturday morning paper and coffee.

September is a great month.  It is the beginning of fall.  Saturday and Sunday afternoons can reach a high of a cool 80 degrees.  School starts and with that comes pleasure and challenge in developing a routine.  All the fun summer memories of the shore, road trips, weddings, and family gatherings are sealed in the friendships that will last longer than the summer sunsets.

What do you do in a month full of renewal and promise, and yet have to balance celebrating the end of one of the many great journeys you shared with your peers and students?

This week, the students and adult members of the West Philly Hybrid X Team were in Washington D.C. for the final announcement of the X PRIZE.  On Wednesday night, some members of the team attended a reception at the Fairfax Hotel.  Many team members spoke about their journeys competing in the X PRIZE.  From Oliver Kuttner to Azeem Hill, it was a grueling competition that allowed anyone to reach creativity in science, design a car that will help the community at hand, and meet some of the most amazing and talented people who share the same passion and goals as you do.

Michigan International Speedway seems like it was yesterday.  Simon, Ann, and all the team members are on this other level of accomplishment and expectations.  I think Simon knew exactly what he was doing 12 years ago when he started this program.  Ann knew exactly what she was doing 20 something years ago making sure there are opportunities for high school students to work for the City's Office of Fleet Management.  The X PRIZE was a perfect space to bring all of these efforts and projects to the forefront and reach that other level.

On Thursday morning, the team members made their way to the Historical Society of Washington.  Edison 2 won the Mainstream Class for $5 million.  Li-ion Motors won the Alternative Side by Side Class for $2.5 million, and X-Tracer won the alternative Tandem Class for $2.5 million.  There were many speakers, including Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The speeches were very good, but the best comment came during Peter H. Diamandis’ speech was by Simon.  He was very impressed with the level of memorization and delivery of the speakers.  I asked if he was joking and he said, “No, its really impressive that they can memorize their speeches.”

“Simon, there are four teleprompters on that stage.  Do you not see them?”

“Ohhhhh, that is what those are.  You shouldn't have told me that because now I am not as impressed and won't pay attention.”

Simon gets out of his seat and heads to the cars.

Lunch was delicious at Fuddruckers.  Roger ate a 16 oz burger.  Alexis, Brandon, Sekou, and Azeem were afraid to eat lunch for fear of spilling anything on them before listening to Obama’s “Change the Equation” speech.  It was so funny watching them eat their lunch, because Alexis and Brandon covered themselves in napkins.  Sekou took the smallest bites I have ever seen.


It was so nice to see them.  It was even nice to see Michael Glover.  I still think that to this day he will never do his homework in the proper ink color.  Justin Clarke and Daniel Moore looked so old to me.  I cannot believe they are seniors.  Azeem was just the same.  He has so much personality and insight.  Alexis looked beautiful and still doesn’t realize how much work she did on the two cars during the Knockout Stage.  On Thursday morning, Sam called her sister to wish her good luck on her first day of kindergarten.  For the record, she had a strawberry pop tart for breakfast and some orange juice.  I am sure Obama had the same meal that morning as well.

How do you put into perspective listening to the President of the United States talk about the accomplishments of the West Philly Hybrid X Team?  It is such a big deal.  It is such a big deal.  Every day we will recognize, acknowledge, and live those words President Obama said to the nation by doing exactly what we are doing now.  We are moving forward.  Azeem still has to take his SATs, and Daniel Moore still has to do his senior project.

It’s Sunday night.  It is a school night.  We are getting ready for another full week of activities to keep people interested and voting for our Green Technology High School proposal for the GE Ecomagination Challenge.  Students are making presentations this week at Drexel and University of Penn.  On Saturday and Sunday, we will be on Main Street in Manayunk.

September is a great month.  It allows time for the accomplishments of the summer to continue and hopefully shape the fall.

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