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Team finishes quest at top of its game

Corbett High quartet No. 1
by: Jim Clark Corbett High School seniors Cole Ceciliani, Finn Thorsell, Daniel Handy and David Schroth display the various awards they've won as a WorldQuest academic competition team over the past four years.

Question: What law did the African nation of Malawi put in place this year?

The answer, my friend, is breaking in the wind.

That's right, Malawi has reportedly outlawed persistent flatulence in public. It's a good thing, too, because Malawi was the answer to one of the questions asked of a WorldQuest Team made up of Corbett High School seniors during a national competition in Washington, D.C., this April.

Cole Ceciliani, Daniel Handy, David Schroth and Finn Thorsell giggled as they recalled the question - 'I was very proud I knew that one,' Schroth says as his friends laugh.

It should be pointed out, however, that the question was just one of literally hundreds the quartet has answered over the past four years in WorldQuest competitions, which ask teams of high school students to answer dozens of queries on issues ranging from global health and press freedom to gender equity and energy policies.

Over the past four years, the Corbett students have taken second place twice at the state level, and this year earned the No. 1 spot in Oregon during a March competition, correctly answering 81 out of 100 questions.

'I was just really satisfied when they called out our names,' Handy says, noting his mother, Susan, is the team's coach and a Corbett Grade School teacher.

The Corbett quartet's hard work garnered them a trip to the nation's capital in April, where they placed 11th out of 42 teams by correctly answering 75 out of 100 questions.

Ten questions were asked for each of the 10 topics, and teams had one minute to confer and decide on each answer.

The Corbett students competed against teams from 41 regions of the U.S. as well as a team from Cairo, Egypt.

The team also attended a reception at the European Union Delegation to the United States, toured several Smithsonian museums, visited the National Aquarium and Fort McHenry in Baltimore, and watched the Boston Red Sox beat the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Ceciliani and Handy say they particularly enjoyed visiting one exhibit at the Smithsonian displaying a diner counter where civil rights activists seeking to desegregate public facilities engaged in a sit-in.

All four seniors say participating in WorldQuest competitions helped slake their thirst for knowledge.

'I was already interested in other countries, but I think this increased my interest,' Handy says.

Ceciliani says he's enjoyed researching global health questions over the past four years and notes he plans to study medicine.

'I just feel like it's the immediate way to help a person when they're in a life-threatening situation or when they've been hurt,' he says.

Thorsell says he's appreciated how being a member of the team has broadened his view of the world.

'As far as learning about global issues … this is the best option,' he says.

WorldQuest Team details

In March of 2003 the World Affairs Council of Oregon launched an international competition for high school students called WorldQuest.

The competition involves up to 40 teams of students from schools in Oregon and southwest Washington. Each participating school is invited to send one or two teams to show off their knowledge of culture, geography and international affairs.

Teams compete simultaneously on paper as questions are shown on a large screen and read by a master of ceremonies.

To learn more about WorldQuest, visit world

oregon.org/more/education/worldquest.php.

Donors

The Corbett High team's trip to Washington, D.C., was funded by donations from the World Affairs Council of Oregon, the Corbett Education Association, the Corbett Association of Certified Employees, St. Anne's Council of the Knights of Columbus, Troutdale Lions Club, Gresham Elks, West Columbia Gorge Rotary Club and numerous friends, family members and teachers.