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Friendly rivalry in full gear during High School Academic Team Competition

April 13, 2013|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — They giggled before naming the instrument once known as a sackbutt and fidgeted when racing to mentally simplify two times the square root of 28 in simplest radical form.

It was game day for public school students from across Washington County who had been meeting weekly and studying daily to prepare for the 17th annual High School Academic Team Competition on Saturday at Springfield Middle School.

Contestants readily answered what Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost — an arm — but came up short when asked which writer penned “Beloved Infidel” about her relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald — Sheila Graham.

Beth Moore, college readiness specialist for Washington County Public Schools who helped coordinate the event, said eight of the county’s nine high schools were represented.

“We have so many sporting events and we celebrate athletics, but it’s also very important to celebrate academics,” Moore said. “And this brings that friendly competition between the high schools, which is something that encourages them to work a little bit harder and learn some obscure things that they might not otherwise explore.”

After two preliminary rounds, four teams remained to compete in the championship round — Boonsboro High School, Smithsburg High School, North Hagerstown High School and Clear Spring High School.

“Friendly competition” was in full gear as points projected onscreen indicated a neck-and-neck race between Boonsboro and Smithsburg for most of the competition, with North not far behind. The three teams frequently were within 10 points of each other, with each question worth 10 points. Points were deducted “Jeopardy”-style for wrong answers. At one point, the three contenders were tied at 90 points a piece.

Ultimately, Boonsboro pulled off the win with 130 points, while Smithsburg finished at 110 and North at 80. Though coming up with some solid answers, Clear Spring had fallen significantly behind.

Boonsboro and Smithsburg placed first and second in last year’s competition as well.

Junior Attiya Latif, 16, of Hagerstown, who attends Smithsburg High School, said she thought her team played well, but was, at times, “too slow on the buzzer.” Attiya joked that the two schools were “arch nemeses” in both sports and academics, then added in seriousness that the rivalry is indeed “friendly” and that the event is a  good opportunity to build knowledge and confidence.

“A lot of people look at people who know a lot and they are like, ‘Oh, she is a nerd and she’s a geek,’ like, ‘That’s weird,’” Attiya said. “But in reality, the people who are most successful are the ones who know the most, so I think this competition rewards those who deserve to be rewarded for what they know.”

Junior Sasha Margob, 16, of Hagerstown, played for Boonsboro High School and was a childhood neighbor and friend of Attiya, Attiya said. Sasha, who wants to become a doctor, said she has fun at after-school practices. Her Boonsboro team focuses on diverse questions and on hitting the buzzers quickly.

“I retain a lot of information, actually, from our practice. Like, there are a lot of things I don’t know that I pick up on,” she said. “Also, I really enjoy school, I really enjoy learning and I know the kids who do it enjoy those things, too. So it brings a sense of happiness.”

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Competition winners

The following were the winners in Washington County Public Schools’ 17th annual High School Academic Team Competition on Saturday at Springfield Middle School:

• First place — Boonsboro High School
Coach — Tracy Salka
Team members — Priscilla Bushko, Aaron George, Ella Hawkins, Nathan Hoberg, Zach Hull, Grace Li, Frank Liao, Sasha Margob, Aidan Thaggard

• Second place — Smithsburg High School
Coach — John Fetchen
Team members — Jordan Bliss, Natalie Kauffman, Attiya Latif, Joanne Lee, Usman Qadri

• Third place — North Hagerstown High School
Coach — Carisa Mattu
Team members — Nick Brandenburg, Sarah Carr, Olivia Jones, Jake Markoff, Rachael McCollough, Max Ober, Ben Seifert, Abby Singer, Garrett Singer, Lindsay Strehle

• Fourth place — Clear Spring High School
Coach — James George
Team members — Kenny Carrier, Abby Cottrill, Gage Heacock, Michael McIntyre

• Top-scoring nonfinalist team — South Hagerstown High School
Coaches — Darla Eckhart and Petra Friedrich
Team members — T.J. Diaz, Matthew Eaton, Chris Kimberlin, Emmanuel Teferi, Nemo Teferi, Stephanie Young

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