Three of Queen Creek High School's best and brightest are heading to Seoul, South Korea, for an academic competition - by clearing hurdles that will make the accomplishment that much more meaningful and instructive.
Sophomores Dylan Heimer, Kara Karaniuk and Trevor Williams never asked the Queen Creek Unified School District to foot the $8,000 bill for the journey to the World Scholar's Cup finals, for which they qualified after coming in 11th at the national finals in Tucson.
They committed to raising the money on their own, and sought the district school board's blessing for the trip so their assistant coach, Matthew Chicci, could accompany them.
Citing liability concerns with having students sent overseas under the district's banner, board members voted 4-1 against endorsing the trip, but urged the students to pursue it on their own.
Which is exactly what the students did, with their parents' backing. They got a huge financial boost from the owners of A Child's Place at the Ranches, a Gilbert day care center, who stepped forward with $5,000 for plane tickets. The students obtained permission from the school to take their final exams after they return from the 12,400-mile (round trip) journey.
It's a sure bet that the youths have learned a great deal more via this process than they would have if the school district or their families had simply picked up the tab, or otherwise gotten into the driver's seat. They have seen how dreams can be nearly strangled by bureaucratic red tape, and how people often fare better when they strike out on their own and turn to the private sector for help.
So once the teens land in Seoul with their parent-chaperones one short week from today, they will have already come out winners. We still wish them the best of luck as they compete against teams from Japan, India and eight more nations.