After assembling their own league of superheroes and giving back to their community, two McKendree University sophomores are in the semi-finals for a national contest — but they need your help.
Twins and Belleville natives Kyle and Cole Nordmann, 20, are on one of four teams left in the Warner Brothers DC League Up contest. The winning group, chosen by public votes and a panel of judges, receives an all-expenses paid trip to the film premiere of “Justice League” in November.
“I’m kind of already subscribed to just about everything DC has,” Kyle said. “So it was by no coincidence that I just stumbled upon this contest that they were advertising, and I was like, ‘That sounds cool. Let’s do it.’”
With the help of three friends from their alma mater Althoff High School, the Nordmann brothers created a Twitter video introducing their own “Justice League” and explaining what they would do to celebrate the release of the latest DC movie.
Each of them represented the qualities of one of the main characters of the film — Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. Kyle exemplified Flash’s courage and drive as an Eagle Scout, and Cole portrayed Batman’s determination and intelligence by being a McKendree President’s List recipient with a 4.0 GPA.
“We kind of sat down and were like, ‘These are our friends, how can we fit these to our characters within our lives?’” Kyle said. “It was kind of serendipitous that they ended up being our favorite characters.”
Out of about a dozen initial teams, the metro east-based league was chosen by DC judges to advance to Round II, in which they made a video of their celebration — a superhero-themed event for first-graders at Paul Dunbar Elementary School in East St. Louis.
“When we did get into the top four … I was sitting in our apartment up the road next to (Kyle) and I was like, ‘Dang, this is way farther than I ever thought we’d get, but cool, let’s keep rolling,’” Cole said.
The league collaborated with Principal Carlynda Coleman at Dunbar Elementary to volunteer their time with about 100 first-graders on Friday, Sept. 15.
“That day probably went about as well as that day could have ever gone,” Cole said. “We went into the gym and said hi and [gave] high-fives, told stories, all of that. I had a bunch of first-graders sitting around me asking me to tell them stories, so I was just like rattling off stories that I know that have Batman.”
They prepared a curriculum that coincided with their superheroes’ talents and interacted with the students using fun, educational activities throughout the day.
“Each classroom had a different curriculum activity that we did that focused on each of the different characteristics of the Justice League,” Cole said. “So Batman and Cyborg’s was technology and intelligence, so we did a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project. Wonder Woman’s was peace and equality, so we did some anti-bullying curriculum. Aquaman’s was environmental responsibility, so we talked about reduce, reuse, recycle and played a little game. Then Flash’s (qualities) we spun into phys(ical) education, and we played a little relay race game.”
Director of Strategic Partnerships for School District 189 Sydney Stigge-Kaufman said overall the event was energizing for everyone involved.
“(The students) were very excited to participate. It was hands-on learning; it was very engaging and fun,” Stigge-Kaufman said. “There was one moment where one of the heroes, I believe it was Batman, pointed to one of the first-grade girls and said, ‘You can be a detective, too!’ And her face just lit up. Someone’s planting the seed that she can be something new and exciting and different and something like a superhero herself.”
According to Kyle, the students coincidentally were working on a superhero unit in their classrooms already, which paired well with the league’s planned material.
“We were really grateful for the volunteers who came in and used the superhero concept as a way to engage the students,” Stigge-Kaufman said. “The concepts that they brought really helped connect students with the existing curriculum and engage them in a unique way.”
(The students) were very excited to participate. It was hands-on learning, it was very engaging and fun. There was one moment where one of the heroes, I believe it was Batman, pointed to one of the first-grade girls and said, ‘You can be a detective, too!’ And her face just lit up. Someone’s planting the seed that she can be something new and exciting and different and something like a superhero herself.
Sydney Stigge-Kaufman, director of strategic partnerships for School District 189
The league’s second video can be viewed on the DC All Access app, and people can vote for their favorite league until Monday, Oct. 2.
“The whole voting process is supposed to take the four and narrow it down to the two teams that have the highest votes, and then they are considered the two finalists. Then, (the) panel of judges picks between those two a single winner,” Cole said.
As of Wednesday, the Nordmann brothers’ league was in second place in votes.
“At this point, we’re kind of just like, ‘You know what, if we “lose” like who cares? This was really cool,” Kyle said.
Cole gestured to his brother, “What is it you keep saying? (Kyle) keeps saying, ‘Man, win or lose, there’s still a Justice League movie coming out.”
The winner of the contest, Kyle said, is expected to be announced at the New York Comic Con on Sunday, Oct. 7. “Justice League” premieres in theaters everywhere Friday, Nov. 17.
How to vote
Download Warner Brothers DC All Access app on your smartphone, view the four remaining videos in the competition, then vote for your favorite.