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Meeting of the minds: Salisbury High Academic Competition team travels to Chicago for national tournament

By Katie Scarvey
Salisbury Post
The Salisbury High School Academic Competition Team ó formerly known as the Quiz Bowl team ó is traveling to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend to compete with more than 160 other teams from across the nation in the National Academic Quiz Tournament High School Championship.
The Salisbury team qualified by placing second in a field of 32 at the Western North Carolina Shootout in February at South Caldwell High School. Salisbury lost its finals match with Wilkes Central High School by just 10 points.
Team members are Seth Morris, Arielle Wright, Dillon Daniels, Max Messinger, Remi Moore, Michelle Nguyen, Doug Rizeakos, Jessica Walters and Alex Weant. SHS science teacher J.T.Bost is the team’s advisor.
Seven of the nine team members will be making the Chicago trip, and Max Messinger will serve as team captain. The tournament schedule will be fairly grueling, with the team playing 22 rounds. A round consist of two nine-minute halves. Although only four team members can play at a time, all team members will participate.
During an after-school practice round recently at Salisbury High, questions ran the gamut from Russian literature to chemistry. Competition questions cover a wide variety of subjects, including history, math, psychology, sports, popular culture and literature.
The “snub-nosed, bowl-legged” Dickens character whose mentor is named Fagin didn’t strike a chord with anybody. (Answer: The Artful Dodger).
“Never heard of it,” someone murmured.
They did better, however, coming up with the names of saints famous basilicas were named after: Peter (Rome) Paul (London) and Mary (Seville).
Seth Morris knew that two organizations merged in 1955 to become the AFL-CIO.
“You power barred it ó good job,” Bost said. That means Morris earned extra points for his team for buzzing in early and answering correctly.
Questions about assassination attempts proved challenging. Students knew that JFK’s assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald but didn’t know who tried to shoot Gerald Ford ó Squeaky Fromme.
Max Messinger came up with “death” as the common word in the titles of several literary works.
Arielle Wright knew that the animal on a particular Australian coin was a platypus, and her team identified two out of three Shakespeare quotes correctly for the bonus.
Morris ó a junior who says that one competition highlight for him was winning the county tournament his freshman year ó says reading “anything and everything” helps him prepare. Wright, a senior, says that playing Trivial Pursuit is good preparation. Weant says that crossword puzzles and even Sudoku help keep him sharp.
Bost has been advising the club for all nine years he’s been at Salisbury High.
“The reward is working with great, wonderful minds,” he says. “This is what you live for as a teacher.
“These kids are so enthusiastic. They are intrinsically motivated. You just guide them a little and they do most things on their own.”
During the trip to Chicago, the team will find time to do things other than answer questions, like eating deep dish pizza, going to the Art Institute of Chicago, and attending a baseball game.
In April, the team hosted the Salisbury Hippocampus Super Bowl, attracting schools from the Southeast.
Donations to help the team defray travel costs are welcome. Call J.T. Bost at Salisbury High School, 704-636-1221, ext. 351.
Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or kscarvey@salisburypost. com.

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