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Boonsboro team wins academic competition

March 24, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Boonsboro High School academic teammates Frank Liao, Alexandra Pantos, and Aidan Thaggard struggle for an answer Saturday at Washington County Public Schools' 16th annual High School Academic Team Competition.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — The last word of the question, “Simplify the square root of 24 in simplest radical form,” was barely out of the moderator’s mouth when Boonsboro High School’s academic team leapt on its buzzer.

The three teammates leaned in for a quick whispered conference, and captain Alexandra Pantos replied, “two root six,” then grimmaced and pinched her nose as the moderator hesitated. “Two times the square root of six,” she clarified, and the three grinned at each other as moderator Will Kaufman declared their answer correct.

The team credits quick mental math skills for its first-place finish Saturday in Washington County Public Schools’ 16th annual High School Academic Team Competition, but the team also racked up points on questions as varied as the chemical name for baking soda, the meaning of the musical term “tutti,” and the inventor of the smallpox vaccine.

“You have to know the answers, but a lot of the things, you know, we can use our logic skills, and these are things that we learn in school,” Boonsboro team member Aidan Thaggard explained. “To study, we just practice answering the questions and knowing when to buzz in and when not to.”

The competition was held at Springfield Middle School and included three preliminary rounds of 80 questions as well as a 70-question championship round between the winners of each preliminary round.

The questions are submitted by the school system’s subject area supervisors based on advanced curriculum in those subjects, competition organizer Lori Parks-Murphy said.

The other two teams to join Boonsboro in the championship round were South Hagerstown High School and North Hagerstown High School. South took second place, and North came in third.

The Washington County Teachers Federal Credit Union donated $300 in scholarship money to the first-place team, $150 in scholarship money to the second-place team and $50 in scholarship money to the third-place team.

In addition, the Hagerstown Community College Foundation awarded a $550 scholarship to HCC to the highest-scoring team that did not make it to the final round. That award went to the Smithsburg High School team.

The activity gives students something good to put on their college applications, but it also builds the ability to think quickly on their feet and to make logical inferences, said Tracy Salka, one of the Boonsboro team’s coaches.

The competition also shows students that learning and knowledge are to be rewarded, Parks-Murphy said.

“We have so many other kinds of activities for kids where they get to compete and they get public recognition — a lot of athletic activities, a lot of music and performing arts performance — but the students who really shine academically in the classroom don’t get that many opportunities to showcase what they can do,” she said.

In addition to Pantos and Thaggard, Frank Liao also competed on the Boonsboro team in the championship round, and their teammates Sasha Margob and Pricilla Bushko participated in preliminary rounds.

The Boonsboro team also competes on the televised Baltimore-Washington area quiz game “It’s Academic.”

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