It’s no secret that throughout the history of mankind, people have always thrived on the spirit of competition. Its unavoidable and you see it everywhere, ranging from categories such as politics, sports, and academics. Academic competitions seem to be the most overlooked due to the fact that athletic competitions are typically honored and celebrated by a majority of the public, while political competitions usually receive massive attention come election season. However, academic competitions hold a lot of merit as well because of how brilliantly they combine the important elements used in mental strength and create an entire competition based on deciding the best user of those mental strengths. Nowhere was this more evident than the Santa Barbara County HS Architectural Design Competition that occurred on March, which consisted of 6 of Santa Maria High School’s brightest students.
This year’s Santa Barbara County HS Architectural Design Competition held a preliminary competition on March 12 where the outcome determined who would move on to the final competition held in Los Olivos just four days later. An estimated 60 to 80 students, all hailing from 10 different county high schools, competed in the first part of the competition and were split between two venues, the first time that has ever happened in the competition’s 28-year history. The two venues used for this competition was the headquarters for Direct Relief, located near the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, and the gymnasium of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. A reoccurring theme that the organizers of this competition wanted to preserve was keeping the design problem relevant to current real life problems. The organizers took inspiration from an architectural organization formed in 2017, who were determined to improve the quality of Santa Barbara’s downtown, and incorporated their situation into this year’s competition.
It was on March 12 that Mrs. Springer took 6 Santa Maria High School students to the Santa Ynez High School gym for the preliminary competition. the six students were Oralia Velasco, Michelle Maldonado, Abdi Rodriguez, Bryan Barriga, Sebastian Saiz, and Alex Romero. Unfortunately, Mrs. Springer and her students arrived a little late, but they got there just in time to hear the breakdown of their task, which was designing a new public space in the Santa Barbara Theater District. Each and everyone of the students gave the competition their all, but in the end, it was Bryan Barriga who would move on to the finals. Bryan became the first ever finalist from Santa Maria High School to compete in the competition since 2005, with a portion of this due to the fact that he spent time preparing for the competition by practicing and researching on his own.
Despite all this, Bryan admits that he was very nervous at the start of the competition, because he had never competed in one of that manner before. Bryan also admits that “upon arriving [he] was intimidated by all the tools competitors from other schools had, some of which [he] had never even seen in [his] life.” Bryan didn’t let these clear obstacles stop him, however, as he was determined to create his tasked design: finding a solution for revitalizing a portion of Santa Barbara, where State Street and Victoria Street intersected, and drawing a plot plan, 2 elevations, and 2 elements of their own idea. The entire preliminary competition was proof that Bryan used all of his mental strength to accomplish academic contests to the point where it has almost become a natural ability of his. All 6 students from Santa Maria High School that competed showed tremendous resilience by channeling in their powerful mental strength.