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Braintree High School wins academic competition third year in a row

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 14, 2011 04:30 PM

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WorldBoston Braintree High student

(From left) WordBoston CEO Bill Clifford stands with Academic WorldQuest winnders Ornelia Xhori, Thomas Snarsky, Krist Tase, Katherine Zheng, alternate James Sheehy, and advisor Robert White.

Five Braintree High School students will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete nationally after winning the state title in the Academic WorldQuest competition this past weekend at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The international affairs and global knowledge competition - hosted by the non-profit World Affairs Council WorldBoston - challenges groups of students to a test of wits in the completion of 90 multiple-choice questions.

From people in the news, to world geography, from gender equality to freedom of the press, students must be knowledgeable in a vast range of areas in order to compete.

Yet the troubling questions were no match for Braintree High students, who won the competition for the third year in a row. WorldQuest has only been in Massachusetts for four years.

Seniors Katherine Zheng, Ornela Xhori, Thomas Snarsky, who won last year, along with juniors Krist Tase and James Sheehy, will compete at the Academic Worldquest National Competition held in Washington D.C. on Saturday, April 30.

According to advisor and BHS Chemistry teacher Bob White, although winning the competition is nothing new for the school, the victory feels sweet nonetheless.

“They’re great kids, and they work really hard to prepare. So we’re proud of them,” White said.

Preparation for the event has been key, and consisted of all five team members (one of whom is an alternate) studying up on the pre-released categories.

“Every year there are different categories, political categories, current events, and what I told them to do, and it is really up to them to prepare, I told them to read the Economist every week, listen to NPR, and learn about everything that is going on, and when you see something you don’t understand, look it up,” White said.

This year, Braintree competed against 13 schools for the title, answering 66 out of the 89 qualifying questions correctly to move on to the national level in D.C.

North Reading High School, who has competed against Braintree in the past, came in second during this past weekend’s competition. Needham High School came in third.

Although the questions at the state level have been tough, Braintree will now have to face at least 40 other schools and a slew of additionally difficult questions come April.

“It’s a great opportunity for young people to engage in a very powerful educational opportunity to learn about the world and to display their knowledge in this excellent format,” said President and CEO of WorldBoston, Bill Clifford.

According to Clifford, teams of four are given half a minute to answer each question. The sheets are then tallied at the end.

The winning team of the state round is given four scholarships to the national competition - hosted by World Council Affairs.

“While high school teams have returned as champions in local WorldQuests around the country, it is rare to have a team win three years in a row,” Clifford said. “I’m confident that Braintree High will do very well in the National Academic WorldQuest next month.”

In the future, WorldBoston hopes to also create an adult WorldQuest to see how adults stack up against the students.

Yet in the meantime, the students are eager to compete against their peers at the national level.

“They didn’t do as well last year as they would like to do, and so they are really excited to get a second shot,” White said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they turn in a nice showing at nationals.”

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