Area high schools show skills in academic competition

Twenty teams competed Friday in the WorldQuest competition.

High fives or disappointing sighs? It depends on the WorldQuest answer.

Twenty high-spirited Minnesota high school teams “traveled around the globe” Friday by competing in the Academic WorldQuest competition, hosted by the Minnesota International Center.

The clock was ticking as the students had 60 seconds to answer each question in the contest’s four rounds – topics ranged from capitals and flags to geography, current events and people in the news.

Each team deliberated quietly and wrote down answers. After each round, the answers were revealed, and students’ reactions varied from the loud “Yes, we got it right!” to “Aw man, we got that one wrong.”

Parents sat in the rear of the McNamara Alumni Center Memorial Hall, but had to hold back applause, as no cheering was allowed during the competition. When the winner was announced, proud coaches and parents cheered all they wanted.

The winning team got an all- expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete nationally in April’s Academic WorldQuest.

After months of preparation that included reading The Economist and using resources their teachers provided, the winner was a team from Chaska High School.

Winning team members said they kept quiet throughout the competition because they weren’t interested in showcasing school spirit. Instead, they said they focused on the first-place prize to compete in Washington.

The four students, Scott Miller, Sam Peterson, Tyler Ryan and John Thomason, said they’re interested in world issues because they present a way to avoid feeling isolated while living in the United States.

The team agreed that the People in the News round was hard, but the wait before the final scores and winner was announced was even harder.

“I’m still shocked,” Miller said.

Other students were also winners of smaller prizes. Random drawings by Minnesota International Center President Carol Byrne awarded students Timberwolves and Gophers basketball tickets as well as orchestra concert tickets.

Byrne said the WorldQuest competition is a way to bring students together to learn about the world in a fun environment.

Chaska coach Chris Lenius said the competition recognizes students for their accomplishments and encourages them to further their knowledge.

Thomason, who will attend the University this fall, said he’s “psyched” to compete in Washington, D.C.

Byrne said the Minnesota Internatinal Center has been gathering the questions since September.