Salisbury High Academic Competition team heading to Chicago
By Nathan Hardin
Which president was known as “Old Rough and Ready?” The answer is Zachary Taylor.
That’s just one of hundreds of questions the Salisbury High Academic Competition team will face at the National Academic Quiz Tournament in Chicago, Ill.
The team consists of two seniors and two sophomores. The seniors, Steve Burges and Christine Vargas, are partnering with sophomores Hannah White and Alex Weant. Alex is the only veteran on the team, having competed in the tournament last year. This back-to-back run makes Salisbury High the only school in North Carolina to ever go to the National Academic Quiz Tournament two years in a row.
Even as they had breakfast at Richard’s Bar-B-Que on Main Street before their send-off, team members were being drilled by their adviser and science teacher, J.T. Bost.
“These kids are the brightest of the bright, the cream of the crop. You just have to put them out there,” Bost said.
The competition, which runs Friday through Sunday, includes subjects from mathematics to mythology. The format is not unlike the popular television show “Jeopardy,” with toss-up questions being answered by the quickest buzzer.
“At first, it seems like the Academic Competition Team is just random facts. Then you get interested, look it up and see the whole idea and the whole spectrum,” Burges said.
The team will wage academic war against the top 180 schools in the nation, while studying for the finals of their Salisbury High courses.
But the team is used to adversity, having already overcome the poor economy to raise the $4,000 cost of the trip in just one month of fundraising.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the parents and the community. The parents have been extremely supportive,” Bost said.
Christine Vargas, who will attend Johnson & Wales University in the fall, has had to deal with her own struggles throughout the year. The night of Feb. 10, she was struck by a van without headlights while crossing Jake Alexander Boulevard and spent three days in the hospital. After a three-week absence from school, a concussion and therapy for her left knee, she has returned to help lead her team in the national tournament.
“I’m excited about going to a national competition and being a part of the best,” Vargas said.
In the few days prior to the competition, the team will visit the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry and enjoy a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
Donations to help the team with travel costs are welcome. Contact J.T. Bost at Salisbury High School, 704-636-1221, extension 351.