Pupils take third in international competition

A talented group of Oakville Middle School STRETCH pupils created a project this year to help ease the pet overpopulation problem in this area called Operation SMILE, Sharing Miracles in Lives Every-where.

Now it’s the pupils doing the smiling as their efforts recently earned them third place at the Future Problem-Solving Inter-national Competition.

The Oakville Middle School team of future problem-solvers qualified for the In-ternational Competition at the University of Kentucky at Louisville by winning the Mis-souri competition. Guided by STRETCH teacher Lisa Constantz, the Oakville pupils put in many hours to perfect their project.

Operation SMILE included a variety of aspects to deal with the problem of pet overpopulation. First, pupils collected blankets to be used as animal bedding at the Open Door Animal Sanctuary. They also sold candy to raise money to help spread the word. Teachers at Oakville Middle assisted with Operation SMILE by participating in a “human hot-dog” competition that had pupils casting votes to see which teacher would get sprayed with hot-dog toppings.

Operation SMILE also included a Dog Fair in which participants could enter a pet in a myriad of competitions, including cutest dog, best trick, flying disk toss and obstacle course. Pupils also were allowed to participate in such events as a sucker pull, face painting, a coloring table and the “chow-down” competition where students ate dog food — actually cocoa puffs — out of dog bowls.

As a community service, Operation SMILE team members distributed fliers about pet overpopulation and gave an educational program on dog safety to Wohl-wend Elementary School pupils.

Operation SMILE team members are: Julie Kernen, Kolby King, Shelby Hamp-ton, Tori Wheeler, Lauren Chapman, Ellen Chopin, Daniel Stefanus, David Harton, Matt Christopher, Warren Crow, Claire Tichenor, Trish Duran, Amber Schaeffer, Kristen Kelly, Casie Sambo, Matt Kocisak and Danny Guo.