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Corbett freshmen take second at WorldQuest

Four buddies are excited about trip to Washington, D.C.
by: John Klicker, From left, Corbett High School freshmen David Schroth, 15, Finn Thorsell, 14, Daniel Handy, 15, and Cole Ceciliani, 15, talk about their recent placing at the the sixth annual Academic WorldQuest at Lewis & Clark College on Feb. 23. The team is headed to the national competition in Washington, D.C., Saturday, April 5.

Did you know Australia fines it citizens for not voting?

And which of these countries has not had a democratic election in 20 years - Egypt, Sudan, Kosovo or Costa Rica?

Answer: Sudan.

If you knew these facts, you might have had a chance at going to Washington, D.C., this April. However, you've been beaten to the punch by a group of four freshmen at Corbett High School.

The team of Finn Thorsell, 14, David Schroth, 15, Daniel Handy, 15, and Cole Ceciliani, 15, earned second place at the sixth annual Academic WorldQuest at Lewis and Clark College on Feb. 23.

The Corbett freshmen's hard work has earned them a trip to the nation's capital where they will compete in the World Affairs Council of America's Academic WorldQuest on Saturday, April 5.

When asked what the secret of the team's success was, Cole answered: 'We're all just buddies.'

Forty-two high schools from Oregon and Southwest Washington competed at the February event, which was presented by the World Affairs Council of Oregon.

The competition tested the students' knowledge of history, geography, culture, international affairs and current events. It consisted of 10 rounds of 10 questions each.

Cole notes that he and his friends each selected a region of the world to study for three months prior to WorldQuest. Cole took Australia and the Americas, Finn researched Africa, David concentrated on Europe and Daniel studied Asia.

It's the first time any of the high schoolers had competed in an academic event, Cole says. 'We really didn't know what we were doing.'

'We didn't know what it was like,' Finn adds.

The team has met each Friday since November, and individually researched newspapers and other sources of information. Finn says the team answered some of the questions at the competition 'off the top of our heads' and struggled with others.

'When we were studying for the questions, I expected more plain geography, when they had more in-depth complicated questions.'

All the students noted that the number of questions regarding UN peacekeeping activities in strife-torn regions particularly threw them.

Daniel's mother, Susan Handy, teaches grades three and four at Corbett Elementary, and helped the boys prepare for the competition.

'Although they have been studying and meeting weekly since early November, it was an amazing victory as they had never attended the competition before, and they are all freshmen,' she says. 'We are very proud of them!'

All the team members say they enjoyed learning about the rest of the world and noted they all have long been interested in global affairs.

'I actually like focusing on the status of other people in the world,' Finn says. 'I like to know how they live and what governs them. I like to know how I live in comparison to the world.'

Daniel shares those sentiments.

'I just like other countries and different people.'

Cole says he enjoys learning about how others are governed.

'I'm just interested in most politics and most things that go along with it.'

Each freshman said he'd like to visit other nations. Finn wants to visit Egypt and South Africa. Daniel wants to visit China, and Cole hopes to explore Australia.

'I definitely want to go to Finland,' David says. 'I think I have some relatives over there.'

Global challenge

The 2008 Academic WorldQuest competition will take place on Saturday, April 5, at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C. Forty-six teams will compete for prizes donated by The Maibach Foundation. The weekend also includes opportunities for the high school competitors to interact with young professionals in foreign relations and hear from experts in the field.

For more information, visit www.worldaffairscouncils.org.