By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The four students addressed the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday, displaying for about 60 people the scale model that they entered in the Future City competition in Seattle in February.
The students — eighth-grader Micah Heemstra, 14; seventh-graders Joanna Sanok and Aubry Botkin, both 13; and sixth-grader Annelise Heemstra, 12 — created the model based on their projections of technology that could be available in 150 years.
They also estimated what issues would be most important to the region.
The name of the town, Port Hamokin, is a combination of their last names.
The model portrays what the downtown area could look like, with the Jefferson County Courthouse remaining as the only recognizable structure.
There are a few downtown buildings that only have a few stories, but a Port Hamokin skyline also rises up, dominated by a hospital in the Port Hudson area and a Space Needle-styled city hall where Memorial Field is now.
There are some social fabric predictions in the model as well: cars will be banned and organic waste will be consumed by larval insects that can then be fed to livestock.
The predictions aren't completely imaginary, but came out of research on what technologies could possibly develop in the future, said the students' instructor, Bernadita Sanner.
The group just missed placing high enough to go to the competition's next round.
If the judges had awarded the students just another 15 points, they would have traveled to Washington, D.C., for the national competition, according to Sanner.
The requirement for the competition was to build a version of a current community that deals with possible transportation issues.
To replace cars, the students suggested a Safe Autonomous Car Sharing (SATS) process where small transporting robots shuttle people from one part of town to the other.
There will also be an eco-lite “chunnel,” a public transportation system that moves 10,000 commuters each day to and from Seattle via pods that whiz through an underwater tunnel.
Additionally, a light rail system offers fast transportation to Port Angeles, Sequim, Poulsbo and Silverdale.
Only one of the four, Micah Heemstra, said he might become an engineer while the others are more open to careers like nursing and teaching.
But the project has changed the students' outlook.
“Before I took this class, I used to drive through town and go 'it's just Port Townsend.' Now I see how much can happen and how there is so much potential in this city,” Botkin said.
“We can definitely do some of these things.”
“Before I took the class, I just saw Port Townsend as a touristy place. Now I wonder how they keep up with all the electricity and construction that needs to be done,” Annalise Heemstra said.
Seener, who works as a full-time substitute, has entered this competition with other schools in which she has taught and said it can be a life-changer.
“When I was teaching in eastern Washington, there was one kid that I never thought would finish school. He was the class clown and I didn't think he'd go anywhere,” she said.
“He's now an engineer in Argentina and speaks a few languages.
“This competition challenges them to bring something to their community and this brings out these ideas.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.