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Freeport students qualify for Academic WorldQuest

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Freeport students qualify for Academic WorldQuest

FREEPORT — A group of four high school students will compete against teams from 40 other states at the 2009 Academic WorldQuest next week in Washington, D.C.

Seniors Owen Lehmer and Annique Milite, and sophomores Taylor Kissin and Spencer Egan will represent Maine in the competition, having bested 10 other schools to make it to the nationals. This will be the fourth time Freeport has represented the state in the competition.

The 2009 Academic WorldQuest is a team competition that tests the students knowledge of international affairs, geography, history and culture. The team is asked 100 questions in 10 different categories. At the April 4 competition, the students will be asked to answer questions about population issues in developing countries, biotechnology and genetics, alternative fuels, connectivity, globalization and transnational crime.

Karen Massey, team leader and social studies teacher, said Freeport High School teams have participated in the state competition six times and have been to the nationals three times. At the nationals they have placed within the top third of all participating schools.

"This is a very intense competition," Massey said. "To be a small public school from Maine at this national competition is impressive."

Massey said the students who participate in the WorldQuest competition are very motivated. The studying is extracurricular, and she said the team meets every week during lunch to practice.

"The team needs to work well together and cover a lot of information that they may only have to answer a few questions about," she said. "It is a huge amount of material to digest."

John LaBrie, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Maine, said the local competitions are similar to the national WorldQuest. In fact, the national competition was started by the World Affairs Councils of America in March of 2003, but the Maine World Affairs Council has been holding WorldQuest competitions since 1998.

The Maine competition includes high school, colleges, and corporations, but only the high school students compete nationally. The local council supports the winning high school team by making contributions toward travel expenses and study guides.

"Maine has terrific schools and the students who are exposed to this competition are excited and enthusiastic about winning the nationals," LaBrie said. "These students learn a lot and really apply themselves."

In addition to participating in the competition next weekend, the students will take a tour of the Capitol building.

"This is a great group of kids," Massey said. "This competition is a lot of fun, and a lot of work."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.